August 27, 2009

You don't bring a .22 to a nuke fight

Well, this happened. It was expected and the only thing that was surprising was the fact that it was done so early in the cycle. Honestly, I have a lot of respect for all these folks and even for Mr. Schieffer and I realize the rollout got pushed because of Hank Gilbert. Still, if this is true, it really pisses me off...

Democratic consultant Jason Stanford, who is not affiliated with a gubernatorial campaign, said the Schieffer endorsement was in the House members' best interest because Schieffer will not turn off the swing voters needed to win close House elections as the party tries to add more seats.

"I think self-interest might be playing a role," Stanford said. "Their goal is to win back the House. It's not to win the Governor's Mansion. It would be nice, but it's not what gets them out of bed in the morning."

Nah, he won't piss off swing voters and, as a result, they'll vote Republican or not vote at all. Gilbert gets them so angry they'll be ready to set their Republican house member (and 39%) on fire. Ask some of the R house members how much fun the Special Session was. Ask them about the phone calls. You think Glen Beck is bad whipping up the teabaggers against health care? Wait until Hank starts whipping up every Texan the way he has Democrats.

This idea that we, as Democrats, need to nominate someone bland, inoffensive and frankly out of their depth when it comes to a statewide campaign in order to win is laughable. It's what we've been doing and it hasn't been working. What really irritates me is the idea that one candidate can bring Republicans and Democrats together, as if that will ever happen. Ask President Obama how that's been working out. Contemporary Republicans are mostly a bunch of vile, rabid dogs. They'll never miss an opportunity to bite and compromise, to them, means you giving up what you want. Running someone like Tom Schieffer against that is beyond stupid.

It's akin to telling the Republicans 'We won't bother you too much so please don't hit us or try to take out seats'. That strategy has allowed us to get within striking distance of retaking the house. But we have to put up some big statewide wins and our best chance, all due respect to the house leadership, is Hank Gilbert.

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July 06, 2009

What a statesman is The Dew

Actually, what a cocksucking piece of shit, but in this lovely article he's a real statesman in the mold of George Wallace.

“If the Senate job came open, I would probably give it a hard look,” he said. “I think that seat needs to stay in Republican hands.”

“I’m not trying to be partisan, but I think it’s probably in the Senate, in America’s best interest, if there’s a healthy balance of Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Republicans that are policy oriented and can stand up and say respectfully that they applaud the goal but there are perhaps better ways to get there that don’t do as much damage to the economy and cost as much in new taxes to the citizens of America.”

Oh, sure. Why would Texas want at least one Senator from the majority party? How foolish of Texans to actually want to have a voice with the majority!

As for not being partisan, Dewby, you kinda sealed the deal on that with the voter ID bullshit y'all pulled at the start of the session that caused it's ultimate demise. It was, in fact, the reason y'all had to come back for a special session.

Let's also remember that there was some HUGE losers from the special, not the least of which was Dewhurst himself, when privatization went down in flames and the asinine revolving fund died. Which means he doesn't have the juice he once did... and even if he DOES decide to run for re-elect, he faces an uphill battle in some of the areas where he's historically done well. It's fallout from not actually leading on transportation and it's going to hurt him, just like it'll hurt 39%.

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June 30, 2009

The Special : Two items worth noting

First item worth noting, this piece from Kronberg regarding what Dunnam is thinking of in terms of a proper duration for the Special...

DUNNAM: NO PLANS TO SLOW ANYTHING DOWN

Wants to be clear on CDA reauthorizations; otherwise plans to expedite speedy session

The Austin rumor mill continues to churn about grand plans by House Democrats to throw a little sand into the gears of the special session.

Not so says House Democratic Leader Jim Dunnam.

"I met with Armbrister and Morrisey on another matter yesterday. I told Armbrister that while we want to be sure we understand what is in the CDA re-authorizations, we were ready to make the session go smoothly."

Dunnam added, "Of course we would like to see CHIP, unemployment insurance and TDI added to the call but we don't have any control over that."

Then there was this in the Statesman on how Sen. Nichols' zeal for open ended CDA renewal could lead us to a much longer session. My question is, simply, CAN WE JUST END THESE AND MOVE ON? The Republicans want CDA's. The Republicans want privatization. The Democrats might be OK with some of it if they know what's going on in the contracts?

Seriously, Rep. Dunnam? The fact that every time y'all vote to continue this garbage it ends up leading to a larger clusterfuck isn't enough of a clue that maybe, just maybe, y'all should just go ahead and be intransigent on the whole thing?

This is a cut and dry issue. Privatization of infrastructure is not an acceptable solution. And now, ahead of an election year, is not the time to play bipartisanship with right wing lunatics like Sen. Nichols. Not when even people in his own district are shopping for primary and general opponents for him.

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June 25, 2009

Sad news...

  • Governor 39% has called a special session for July 1st.

    ”Legislation extending the existence of five state agencies that were subject to sunset review by the 81st Legislature that would otherwise be abolished without legislative action, and to change the review schedule for certain state agencies to balance the Sunset Advisory Commission’s workload.”

    Those agencies include the Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Department of Insurance, Texas Racing Commission, Office of Public Insurance Counsel and Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation.

    ”Legislation allowing the Texas Department of Transportation to issue general obligation bonds, which have already been approved by voters, for highway improvement projects, and for the creation, administration, financing and use of a Texas Transportation Revolving Fund to provide financial assistance for transportation projects.”

    •Legislation extending the authority of the Texas Department of Transportation and a regional mobility authority to use comprehensive development agreements to design, finance, build and maintain transportation infrastructure.

    Oh. Goodie. The revolving fund again. This is going to be a fun special, especially in light of the fact that an item on the call, the CDA extensions, will be extended the validity of an instrument the AG has said is unconstitutional.

  • Creekmore Fath, one of the liberal lions of Austin, has passed away
  • Farrah Fawcett died today after her long battle with cancer.
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    June 15, 2009

    A very special Special...

    According to multiple sources, 39% will be calling a Special Session which will excite no one, except maybe those who are excited about the prospect of another peerless clusterfuck. I am, of course, referring to the Capitol press corps.

    So, here's MY charge to the Lege upon their return... fucking fix fucking TXDOT. Do NOT listen to Senators Ogden, Carona or Nichols. Let Rep. Leibowitz write the TXDOT authorization bill and just pass that.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    June 09, 2009

    Process over principle

    Ladies and gentleman, I give you the Texas Monthly list of the best and worst from the 2009 Session. Two things are clear and the first is that Burka is in LOVE with Sen. Carona, possibly because they share a tailor. The second is that Burka is in love with process over any real substance. There was the Voter ID bullshit which killed the session and earned Rep. Dunnam a spot on the worst list. Burka would have been OK if Dunnam and the Democrats (and a few Republicans) had just accepted a de facto poll tax since then some more legislation could have passed (mostly bad along with some good).

    This part, though, really takes the cake...


    David Leibowitz, Democrat, San Antonio

    For undermining TxDOT reform efforts with a silly proposal for elected highway commissioners.

    Silly? Oh, fuckall, Paul. What are you worried about, the politicization of TXDOT? It's already happened, pal. Not to mention that an appointed board is completely disinterested in what the people of the state actually want but all too eager to fall over themselves to deliver what 39% and his contributors want, namely massive privatization and taxpayers handouts until the end of time.

    There ARE worse things then letting a session go up in flames. Dunnam, Leibowitz and every other legislator that supported the scuttling of the session deserve the thanks of all Texans for doing what Speaker Straus didn't have the goddamn huevos to do. If you can't understand that, Paul, then you should turn in your credentials and start writing your book.


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    May 28, 2009

    Senate D's, HAVE YOU LOST YOUR GODDAMN MINDS?

    Last night I asked people to please contact their State Representative's and ask them to vote against HB 300, the TXDOT sunset bill. All session I've fought, successfully and unsuccessfully, to stop some of the worst transportation bills coming out, most of which seem to have originated with Senators Nichols and Carona. Now, just so you know, both are bad for transportation in this state but Nichols is really the worst of the two.

    Nichols likes to lie to his constituents (just ask him about TTC69). And they're finding out about it. Sucks to be him, but who really cares? It's not like he's all that bright to begin with. He was dumb enough to get caught immediately behind 39% in that stupid, rambling speech about the 10th Amendment and State's Rights that 39% delivered just before asking the Fed's for help with swine flu. One hell of a move to appeal the KBH folks in his district, right? But I digress... Nichols and his flexible relationship with the truth.

    He's told a number of you Senators that the ban on toll roads remains intact in HB 300. That's a lie. In fact, PPP's get strengthened as a result of this bill, not eliminated. Make no mistake, PPP's are a bad deal for Texas. In privatization, the state and taxpayers always end up losing out. This was, is and always will be reality. Needless to say, some of you better spend the next few days actually reading HB 300. Parts of it actually make it easier to convert a highway to a private toll road. And remember that horrible, jackass idea from hell, the Transportation Bank? It's still there.

    Some of you also might want to reconsider your signatures on this. Frankly, considering that I and others supported 855 and we were pushing back on massive Republican opposition to 855, this just pisses me off so goddamn bad I can't really think straight right now.

    None of you need friends like Senators Carona and Nichols. And you all better take a fucking moment to realize that bloggers aren't the enemy.

    (MASSIVE hat tip to EOW for the pickup)

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 27, 2009

    URGENT Kill HB 300 tonight!

    HB 300, the TXDOT sunset bill, has been so larded up with bullshit in the Senate that the damn thing is even worse than what we have now. In short, it'll turn TXDOT into an uncontrollable monster thanks to Sen. Nichols (who has been lying to anyone who'll listen that it's killing toll roads), Sen. Carona and Sen. Ogden.

    So, the House has got to kill it. Please contact your State Representative (lookup here) as soon as possible. Ask them to vote for the TXDOT safety net bill, NOT HB 300.

    We have real transportation problems that need real solutions. HB 300 just creates more problems.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 26, 2009

    Voter ID and the death of this session

    Everyone knew this was going to be a largely acrimonious session of the Lege when the Senate voted to suspend the rules when it came to Voter ID legislation. Let's be clear, this legislation is not about protecting the integrity of the vote, it's about disenfranchising the poor and the elderly, and that's me being nice about it. If you really want to be honest, it's about keeping the blacks and browns from voting.

    So, is it little surprise that since the Republicans are recalcitrant on this issue that Democrats are holding their ground on letting everything else die? As Even Smith neatly points out, no it isn't.

    But what about the polls, McB, that say 70% of Texans support Voter ID? Well, first off, this poll didn't gauge importance ... the reality is that this a voting issue for less than 5% of Texans and they all vote Republican anyway. Second, this was a push poll with questions geared to generate a response. How the hell do you think they got 70% of Texans to agree on anything? Give me 15k for a poll and I'll show you one that indicates that 70% of Texans believe their mama's should be in jail.

    The session is ending badly in the House because the Speaker and the Republicans refuse to put this silly, stupid legislation aside and take up other bills. Which leaves the Democrats with no choice but to use the process to protect the voting rights of the elderly and poor.

    And, Speaker Straus, blaming the Democrats for YOUR inability to control YOUR caucus is really stupid.

    UPDATE There's a nice post over at EOW on the clusterfuck the session has become. Included in it is some speculation from Rep. Dunnam that the Republicans real objective is the hold up insurance reform by putting forth a bill no one can justify. And, honestly, given the fact that the Democrats offered to suspend the rules and take up insurance reform AHEAD of voter ID, it's looking like that's exactly what this is all about.

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    May 22, 2009

    Really? Again with this idiot?

    Word on the street is that SBOE Chair McLeroy's nom is coming to the floor of the Senate. BOR, Musings (here and here) and Bay Area Houston have coverage up. TFN has this piece. The key quote from it...

    It’s McLeroy who told the New York Times that he sees two systems of science, one “naturalist” and the other “creationist.” It’s McLeroy who has said he wants to redefine science to include supernatural explanations. It’s McLeroy who has strongly endorsed a book that says parents who want their children to learn about evolution are “monsters” and that clergy who see no conflict between their faith and science are “morons.” It’s McLeroy who has said he was one of only “four really conservative, orthodox Christians on the board” who opposed science textbooks in 2003 that didn’t challenge evolution.

    Now, I've never really understood why faith and the world we live in have to collide. I've never had a problem keeping them separate. As you can tell, Dr. McLeroy does have a massive problem differentiating between the two, specifically when it comes to education. Dogmatic religious thought and education are two things that should never mix, yet Dr. McLeroy seems hellbent on putting them together in a cocktail mixer and then shaking the hell out of them. What comes out is a noxious blend of religion mixed into our educational standards that kills education the ability of educators in this state to properly prepare our children for the future.

    Muse has phone numbers for all the Senators here. Give one or more a call and let them know that science should be science and Dr. McLeroy should be doing anything but chairing the State Board tasked with creating educational standards for the children of Texas.

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    May 20, 2009

    As you can imagine...

    ...I'm crying some really super big tears right now. Huge ones. Really.

    Just a couple of things...

    1) We have a ban on smoking in even bars and restaurants here in Austin. It passed with barely 52%. Still, the most popular places are ones that have either ignored the ban or have patios.

    2) If you go to a bar or a restaurant that's abnormally smokey and you don't like smoke, why on earth would you go back?

    3) Same thing if you're a non-smoking employee of a bar... seriously? It's not like tending bar or waiting on tables is a skill dependent on working at a particular bar or restaurant.

    I like going to places that, like The Bar In Midtown The Name Of Which Shall Not Be Repeated, allow smoking. Others do not and I usually don't invite those people out when I'm going. That's my choice and theirs. I will never understand why it can't be left to that... choice.

    Oh and this one little bit of hyperbole caught my eye...

    Advocacy groups like Smoke Free Texas vows to continue their fight as they look forward to the 2011 session. "Two years from now, when the Legislature returns," Smoke Free Texas member and government relations director for the Texas High Plains Division of the American Cancer Society James Gray said in a statement, "more states will be smoke-free, more Texas communities will have passed local moke-free ordinances - and thousands more Texans will be ill or dead from secondhand smoke exposure."

    Oh, fuckall James.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 19, 2009

    Shut the door on Bob Perry and his TRCC

    The Texas Residential Construction Commission has been, since it's inception, an absolute disaster. So why is Rep. McClendon trying to save it?

    In response to the concerns of the Sunset Commission, House Bill 2295 by Representative McClendon (D-San Antonio) has been filed. According to the rules of the Sunset Commission, if this “sunset” bill is not signed into law, the TRCC will be abolished. The bill has passed the House and is currently lingering in the Senate with time running out in the legislative session. ... HB2295 continues to deceive. The bill calls for licensing of home builders, but exempts over 28,000 builders currently registered with the TRCC. The licensing oversight will be controlled by the TRCC an agency with 6 years of failure, instead of by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation with 100 years of outstanding service and experience in oversight. And the requirements for licensing are nothing more than paying a fee, taking 8 hours of training, and passing a test administered by the inexperienced TRCC.

    The mandatory State Sponsored Inspection and Resolution Process (SIRP), a process to help mediate complaints, continues to be a convoluted, complicated, legal nightmare that requires legal assistance to navigate. The bill offers an optional, extremely expensive mediation process chock full of legal loopholes that will do more harm than good for the consumer. The bill also reduces the time required to complete the SIRP, but does nothing to reduce its overwhelming complexity and legal ramifications.

    John Coby has more over at Bay Area Houston... it's time to put this miserable excuse for a regulatory agency to death and give homeowners full access to the courts.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    April 09, 2009

    SB 220 - Senate D's galatic fuck up.

    To start with, I should be honest. SB 220, or as it's been more aptly named by a number of folks, THE TAXPAYER SUBSIDIZED CONVERSION OF PUBLIC ROADS TO TOLL ROADS BILL, passed the Senate with a vote of all 31 Senators last Wednesday. Not a single Democrat or Republican stood in opposition. Which really makes them all 39%'s bitch. Or Cintra-Zachry/Bluebonnet's, depending on who exactly is lubing them up.

    Our own Senator Watson, whom I've tried to give the benefit of the doubt, voted FOR this piece of legislation which allows TXDOT to very easily turn existing, taxpayer funded, public roads into a toll roads. It does nothing to fix the long term funding hole in Texas for infrastructure. It does make it infinitely easier to convert an existing highway into a toll road. Why would Senator Watson do such a thing? My guess would be it's because we need roads and rather than standing up for our long term interests, he's caving to the shallow desires of toll interests and the short sighted Greater Austin Chamber crowd dying to get the roads built as tollways now. Sounds great until you realize you can't just get out of this a few years later... this is one horrendous marriage we're going to be trapped in.

    I've given Senator Watson almost two weeks to just TELL US WHY he voted for the bill. He failed to respond, probably because he was working on another craptastic edition of his hokey 'what's up' email, the Watson Wire. Either that or he was thinking of taking another gutsy stand on giving poor kids insurance, which is really gutsy here in Austin where we give the homeless health insurance. Or, maybe he was just grandstanding on the budget. Speaking of, here's my favorite part...

    "It's just kicking the can down the road without making the structural changes we need to in the budget," said Watson.

    Yeah, no foolin' you, is there Kirk? Shame you couldn't pick up on how much 220 was doing, functionally, the same goddamn thing and soaking Texas taxpayers in the process.

    There's an old saying that Democrats are their own worst enemies. It's true as hell in this case as they are alienating the very voters they need to be swinging towards us. Good job, Senate D's! What, you really thought no one would notice? Or did you just buy Sen. Nichols sales pitch hook, line and sinker?

    The worst part is that you denied us an issue with which to browbeat Republicans in 2010. Now, you'll try to cover your ass by whining about bipartisanship and getting something done to help alleviate infrastructure problems. But it's all bullshit and you're a bunch of weak goddamn sisters who've done far too little research.

    Actually, that may be going a bit too far. We'll still beat the R's with it, but some of y'all are going to get hit as well. It's called collateral damage. And if you don't get hit with SB 220, you will sure as hell get hit with SB 17.

    You folks are supposed to be SMARTER than the Republicans. ACT LIKE IT.


    Posted by mcblogger at 09:52 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    March 17, 2009

    Speaker Strauss faces problems (but not from D's)

    Rumors have been floating around for days that there is a movement afoot to oust Speaker Strauss. The ringleaders were said to be Democrats which Rep. Martinez-Fisher and Rep. Dunnam put to bed this morning. Which leaves only the source (Texas Insider - a hard-right Republican blog) thinking there is a movement.

    Speculation now turns to Republicans who may be plotting to unseat the Speaker now that the Democrats have been conclusively ruled out. Rep.'s Bohac, Berman and Brown are just a few of the names I've heard. Pink Dome is reporting that there is a list but that there are only 18 names on it.

    If there IS a move to remove the Speaker, it ain't coming from the Democrats.

    (About damn time you came back, PD)

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    January 06, 2009

    Is Vicki Truitt lying?

    It certainly looks that way, according to what John over at Bay Area Houston has uncovered. Apparently, Vicki is getting off with a slap on the wrist from the ethics commission for illegally using campaign funds for her personal benefit. What has me pretty skeptical of Vicki's honesty is the inability of her mortgage company to locate the documentation related to the financing of the condo her husband bought which she's been paying for with her campaign funds (in the past, you'd call this robbing Peter to pay Paul).

    Photobucket

    Here's the thing... it's REALLY easy to get a copy of a loan. My employer has everything on scanned in and we can pull it off a remote server. So, if one of my counterparties has a file that gets tagged for audit, I can print or email a copy of the complete loan to them. Even with the loans that closed long ago, it's pretty easy because the vast majority have a MERS number that will tell you where the original collateral package actually is as well as the loan details.

    Perhaps if the Ethics Comm would ask Vicki for that they might be able to get an accurate picture. I certainly doubt Vicki's excuse that the documents were lost, especially on a loan of this type.

    `

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:44 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    January 05, 2009

    The Drillin' Mud Salesman

    Well, it appears CradDICK is toast. We would have covered this live last night but for the fact that we were out drinking. And having dinner. Then drinking some more. It's SUNDAY, bitch. What do you want from us, minute by minute updates?

    If news happens on Sunday, you better check KXAN. Or BOR. Or CapAnnex. Or Elise. Those people had nothing better to do than blog about the demise of CradDICK's speakership.

    wax cock1.jpgAll of us at McBlogger would like to wish CradDICK nothing but the best, far from us. And of course, GIANT WAX COCK will always look back fondly on the good times.

    Rep. Hartnett seems to think that R's will rally around Smithee which won't happen. I think he and Dave Carney are developing a strategy that won't work but which, nonetheless, will lead to open ended warfare on the R side of the aisle. Actually, I think that will happen regardless.

    Phillip has a piece up about why Strauss isn't bad for Democrats.Vince has one up about Strauss being horrible for Democrats in 2010. The reality isn't in between. Philip, though dry, is right and there's a lot more I'm sure he'd say if we hadn't just entered a new era of Good Feelings (now with Bipartisanship!).

    I'll leave you only with this for those panicked about the impact a Strauss speakership will have on D's in 2010... when the long knives come out, it won't be on the D side.


    Posted by mcblogger at 10:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    January 02, 2009

    It's Joe

    The candidate of the ABC Republicans is Rep. Strauss from SA. I know next to nothing about him. Elise thinks he's kinda cute which makes me think I need take her to see my optometrist.

    5-6 and pick 'em that CradDICK gets re-elected.

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    December 31, 2008

    From your fingers to God's eyes

    Amen, Kirk.

    And we must be more open and honest about how we raise money and make the investments for our future.

    Absolutely. It's time people stop seeing taxes as wasted money and begin to understand that it's an investment in the future success of our state.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    December 15, 2008

    Why does Debbie Riddle's breath smell like my poop?

    We LOVE Debbie Riddle in much the same way we love cancer. And the herp. And HIV. And genocide.

    OK, you got us... we don't really LOVE Debbie Riddle so much as think she's a massive incompetent who only gets elected because she has an R after her name. Now, she's going after 'illegals' which is code for 'messicans'.

    All I have to say to that is...

    YOU STUPID BITCH. YOU GONNA COME

    MOW MY GODDAMN LAWN?

    THAT, my firends, is the reality. The overwhelming majority of these people come here for a better life and they work hard. They certainly work harder than a retarded State Representative from Houston. And they work hard mowing my fucking yard. Of course, they also do other things but that's the immediate impact on MY life.

    Tell you what, Debbie Dumbass, as soon as you climb your ass up on a freeway overpass during construction in August and work a full day, you can talk about 'keeping the illegals out'. Until then, shut your fucking mouth before these folks DO decide to go home and we're left with an employment crunch.

    Not that you'd know what that is, but it's BAD. We don't want that. OK, Debbie?

    Debbie Riddle, so stupid she thought TacoBell was a phone company in Mexico.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    December 03, 2008

    Speaking in tongues

    PDiddie and WCNews have some goodness up about the Speaker's race. Phillip has updated numbers on Craddick/Not Craddick votes.

    Finally, Coby has a great post about the ethics complaint filed against Craddick for funneling money to his kid... and keeping her on his taxpayer funded health insurance.

    PhotobucketOver the last few months State Representatives Eissler and Isett have been heavily fined by the Texas Ethics Commission for using their campaign cash to pay their spouses and dependents for services. They both claimed ignorance and at least one claimed House Speaker Craddick was doing it also. And for good reason.

    Craddick has paid his daughter Christi over $650,000 since 2003 for "salary", $133,000 in 2007 and $110,000 for the first 10 monts of 2008. As Isett and Eissler has learned, the Ethics Commission rules prohibits payments to
    dependents.

    My daddy never paid me that well. Probably because I'm all the time stuck in traffic. Or speeding.

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 18, 2008

    ImmiGRATING on my last nerve

    PhotobucketVince has an excellent recap up for all the shiteriffic legislation that Leo Berman has filed to usher in what promises to be a truly vile session of the Lege. The bills are mostly unconstitutional and will only end up, if they pass, costing the state money to defend until they are ultimately struck down. It's really little more than politics as usual from a douche you could best serve his constituents (and all Texans) by sticking a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger. My favorite...

    Might As Well Call It A Tax On Businesses. HB 266 would require that no government agency, city, etc., enter into a contract with a private business unless that business participates in an electronic status verification system to verify the citizenship of all of its employees. Such programs can be very costly, and would prohibit a lot of small businesses from doing business with the government simply because they can’t afford the cost. An affidavit certifying that they’ve checked the papers/Social Security Cards of all their employees would be far more efficient, although is still unnecessary.

    I'm certain this will go well with Chambers of Commerce across the state.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 16, 2008

    Speaker's Race : My money is on Merritt

    PhotobucketPhillip over at BOR (here, here and here) has been doing a good job keeping up with the Speaker's race and the reality is that people, even more than after the 2006 cycle, are paying attention to what happens. Gardner Selby had this over at The Statesman on the race and how Democrats could fuck it up, which is entirely possible. However, there was a funny bit from the article...

    Craddick hasn't declared victory. But a consultant to the committee that backed Republican House incumbents in the elections calls the race over. Dave Carney said of Craddick: "I don't think there's any doubt he survives."

    Carney noted what most at the Capitol know: If a challenger had the votes to take Craddick, he or she would have held an "I'm King" press conference.

    ...

    Carney, though, plays down anti-Craddick sentiment as "driven by guys sitting around in their underwear" writing political blogs.

    Now, before you get all wound up, you should really ignore the unmitigated failure that is Dave Carney. Oh, and Dave, I don't sit around in my underwear. Sorry to bust that little fantasy for you but you'll just have to find something else to think about when you jerk off.

    Here's how this plays out... there are three serious R (Craddick, Keffer and Merritt) candidates. Everyone else is a waste of time. As for the D's, unless Linda Fatass loses the recount, there's a very slim chance that there will be a Democratic Speaker. Even if it were possible, Hochberg would likely be the only one they could settle on. In this scenario, the D's can get enough R's to replace the Craddick D's.

    For now, let's concentrate on the R's... Craddick is obviously a non-starter but he'll probably pull 35-45 votes, as much as 55 with certain Democrats like Turner and Edwards who ostensibly support Turner but will likely shift to their old buddy Craddick. Which makes him the big shit right now. Any other challenger is going to have to pull together a coalition of the R's and the D's to make this work.

    I don't think Hochberg can hold the R's. Which means this is one of those shitty times when if progress is to be made, it's going to have to be Democrats who give in. And their choice is Merritt or Keffer. There's already a rumor that the 20/20 folks are supporting Keffer. There's also a rumor that's a lie. Personally, I'm inclined to believe the latter since Keffer really isn't much better than Craddick. And those folks know it.

    Which leaves Merritt in the enviable position of being less of a son of a bitch than the others. And once everyone on the anti-Craddick side gets that they have to get to 60, at least, there's going to be a come to Jesus and I have a feeling Merritt's going to walk out with the votes.

    Posted by mcblogger at 04:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 11, 2008

    Transportation : Goodbye, Sal and Filing Fun

  • So long, Sal and have fun in IL. We'll keep up the good fight... though we're hoping to work with Sen. Watson. But we promise, we'll never work with Perry or Deidre. We don't suffer fools.
  • Vince has a very nice run down of the Transportation Bills that have been filed. Our faves...

    HB 12 by State Rep. David Leibowitz (D-San Antonio): Would expand the Texas Transportation Commission to 15 members and require that those members be elected by voters.

    HB 11 by David Leibowitz (D-San Antonio): repeals the authority of the Texas Department of Transportation to establish or operate the Trans-Texas Corridor.

    Senators Carona and Nichols also filed some bills today that were largely sops to people who want to kills tolls and the TTC but won't really do much of anything.

    Wait... that's unfair. I should point out that I'm making that statement based on previous actions. Who knows, maybe they are serious about transportation this time? If so, it's only taken them 6 years.

    One of Carona's bills hands to the Comptroller the ability to reset the gas tax based on construction cost inflation. Honestly, we've been waiting for this for a while, so we're going to withhold judgment. It should pass, but I doubt there are enough people in the Lege bright enough to see that they are punting the issue to another party and taking it off their plate for good.

  • Posted by mcblogger at 02:53 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    November 10, 2008

    Sad news...

    PhotobucketApparently, Linda Harper-Brown (R - Twinkies) has won re-election in HD-105.

    She will next be appearing in the House wearing the dreaded caftan sometime after Christmas.

    Seriously, this a bummer. You guys up in 105 where sooooo close to sending her back to the buffet where she was grazing before the Republicans found her.

    Next time work harder.

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:21 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Al Edwards v2.0 vs Al Edwards v1.0

    Meet the new Al Edwards. Same as the old Al Edwards.
    Photobucket
    Except this one is fatter.

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    September 05, 2008

    The Leo Berman Funny

    I don't know if BurkaBuddy (that's our new name for him) was trying to be funny or was just reporting the funny...

  • Leo Berman, the strange old man from Tyler who decided last session that the Texas Constitution trumps the FEDERAL Constitution (and he wouldn't change his mind even when CradDICK explained to him that it wasn't the case. And that he was a fucktard), is seriously considering a run for Governor.

    One of the first Texans I saw was Leo Berman. I asked him if he had heard any of the delegates express unhappiness that McCain had chosen Sarah Palin instead of Kay Bailey Hutchison. “Oh, no,” he said. “Kay is pro-choice. There isn’t a single person in this delegation who is pro-choice.” We also talked a little about immigration. “David Swinford [chairman of State Affairs] killed all the bills last time,” he said. “That isn’t going to happen this time. If it does, if we can’t get our immigration bills passed, there are going to be some more people in the governor’s race. I’m considering running for governor myself.”
    But wait... it gets better!
  • Leo Berman also bravely stepped into the fray to defend the honor of none other than Phyllis Schlafly

    Yesterday there was an altercation at the Phyllis Schlafly luncheon. Sarah Palin was supposed to attend, but she couldn’t make it. An uninvited guest showed up — a peace activist who ran up to the front of the room carrying a banner that said “PEACE!” Two intrepid Texans — state reps. Leo Berman and Jodie Laubenberg — wrestled her away.

    What bitches y'all are! Two of you were necessary to 'wrestle' a peace protester? Are you kidding? Leo, you're really a giant worthless cuntrag.


  • Posted by mcblogger at 12:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    August 26, 2008

    Frank Corte in a box?!

    There IS a structure on the empty lot that Frank Corte calls home. It's a mailbox.

    View image

    Now, the question is, can he live in it? I guess I could have called this post 'DICK (in a box)'.

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    August 25, 2008

    The Transportation Daisy Chain

    A certain political consultant emailed the release of the Republican Leadership (now ain't that just one hell of an oxymoron?) regarding their willingness to work with one another. After reading it, I responded to him with

    Craddick sucks off Dewhearst sucks off Perry eats out Delisi sucks off Craddick?

    To which he responded

    I'd rather not have that image in my mind, but, yes, I think you have it about right.

    Here's the gist...

    Highlights of the new plan:

    Stop funding the Texas Department of Public Safety with gas tax funds, and divert those millions to road construction. DPS could instead be funded with general revenue tax funds.

    What an AWESOME idea, y'all! We've only been asking for it for years but it's good to see that you're finally doing what we told you to do. Next, find the revenue to fund DPS without the gas tax. Good luck with that, R's. WITHOUT taking away CHIP.

    Create a special Transportation Finance Corporation to allow Texas-based investment funds to directly invest in state transportation projects.

    Rutro! This is the kind of place where you people normally take a nosedive. Here's the inside skinny... the folks at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs (whatup, peeps!) are having problems selling toll bonds. Which means that road privatization has pretty much ground to a halt along with everything else in the debt markets, at least everything risky (read: toll revenue bonds). If Texas had issued tax-backed revenue bonds and indexed the gas tax (AS ADVISED YEARS AGO) they wouldn't have had any problems selling off the debt. However, toll bonds (much like subprime and Alt A mortgage credits) are questionable at best, valueless at worst. Which means nothing is selling and there's no way for Perry and his cronies at Zachry (and THEIR friends, Cintra (Bluebonnet)) to get the money to buy the roads. Burka has some great stuff up on just how successful road privatization has been. For investors.

    So, now that private money has evaporated to finance your questionable plans, you morons want to dip into the underfunded public pensions!??!?!?! Lemme guess, you'll be giving the investment banks a cut on that transaction to work as adviser, right? And, of course, Zachry will be brought in to manage everything and take a cut. Annually. So, what does that leave for the pension fund?

    Great idea, you guys! Precisely what I'd expect from folks with the intellectual capacity of sparrows.

    Authorize perhaps as much as $5 billion in bonds for additional highway construction projects. Voters approved a constitutional change in November 2007 to allow these bonds, but legislation is still needed to authorize them.

    Oh, those tax backed bonds! Yeah, you should totally issue those. Here's the thing, though... at some point, you R's are going to have to finally admit to folks you've been lying to them about the possibility of having economic growth, good public infrastructure and excellent services (schools, fire and police) all while paying less in taxes. Simply put, you've been selling (but not delivering) a free lunch. It's worked so far because no one's been real hungry. Now they're starving and they want something to eat.

    EOW nails it and picks up on what the Statesman (and other major media sources) have always missed. These aren't REAL solutions, it's a shell game designed to make it appear that something is happening... and to put off the day when the bill really comes due.

    The really wonderful post on all this comes from Paul Burka at Texas Monthly who lays it out beautifully.

    The reality that no one on the R side wants to admit is that their ideology is fundamentally flawed. In the real world, privatization does not always work to the benefit of consumers, especially in the absence of substantive GOVERNMENT oversight. An old school economic conservative can you tell you that. In fact, I've done it several times. We, unlike the ideologues running the government who've never really worked in business, know from first hand experience that private enterprise can be every bit as wasteful as big government.

    And we hate waste, whether it's Democratic or Republican. And crony capitalism is definitely waste.

    One last point, there appear to be those who still want to parrot the old estimate that our transportation funding shortfall is $80-100 bn. It's NOT. It's not even close especially when you aren't building TODAY for capacity you won't need until the late 2040's. As a side note, I'd also like to ask the Lege to set up an independent body, appointed by the LEADERSHIP from both parties in the Lege, to audit TXDOT and what they are paying suppliers. I find it UNBELIEVABLE that true road constructions costs have escalated more rapidly than anything other than gold bullion.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    August 01, 2008

    Sen. Kirk Watson NAILS IT

    Here's a sample of today's WatsonWire...

    But the Mansion fire isn’t only a symbol. It’s a symptom of the self-interested neglect and mismanagement that have come to define those who purport to lead this state. While Texas is blessed with dedicated, hard working, public service-oriented employees, they have been denied the tools and leadership they need.

    Texas, and every Texan, deserves better. It’s time to demand a government that works.

    Read the rest here. Kirk, we need this from you... and we need you desperately to be a leader on transportation funding that won't leave the majority of the state in the slow lane.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    July 25, 2008

    A Buttertroll, CradDICK and John Davis walk into a bar...

    The more things change... John Davis is in trouble. Sherrie Matula is kicking his ass for being as useless as tits on a boar. She's outraising him and now little Johnny is starting to freak out. So bad, in fact, that he's requested none other than the electorally toxic CradDICK and Karl "Buttertroll" Rove to come to his aid. While they aren't good for votes, they're great for money.

    So, we need to make sure Sherrie keeps in the advantage. Give what you can, even if it's a dollar, and let's help the folks in HD 129 get rid of this worthless bastard. Remember, change in one seat in the Lege may be the advantage we need to get rid of CradDICK and start rebuilding our State.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    July 24, 2008

    Were you wondering what was up at the NCSL?

    If you're curious about what's happening at the National Conference of State Legislators, the crew at KXAN has you covered.

    And no, I don't know what it's all about.

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:26 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    July 23, 2008

    Cracking down on the Lege...

    Let's face it, certain members of the Lege suck. Most of them are Republicans, though there are a few Democrats (Hey there, Sly!) and frankly their lives while in Austin are too goddamn easy.

    It's time we natives start treating these people like the bitches they are. We're going to start a new feature here at McB, where we let our friends and neighbors know the faces and names of the assholes in our midst. They're all the time taking advantage of us, cutting line, getting the best parking, getting out of speeding tix, cutting funding to programs we need and being mean to our electeds in the Lege.

    Now, I'd never tell you to be physically abusive or gross. If you're a server and find yourself waiting on Linda Harper-Brown while she consumes THE MENU, it's your call whether or not you want to spit in her food. I'm not trying to tell you to do anything specifically. What I'm thinking of is just an overwhelming amount of negativity. Say you run into one of these douchebags at 7-11 on 15th. Rather than say "Hello, Mr. Speaker" or, if you're trying to get around them, "Pardon me, Rep. Chisum", you might try "Would you MOVE, shitbox?"

    I'd also like to ask our Constables, Sheriff's Deputies and Police to start ticketing these people for EVERYTHING (and don't give me that... my Dad was an officer. You can ticket folks for ANYTHING). Or, let me put it this way... if you see an SO tag, you pull them over. Period. NYC has the dicks from the UN to deal with and we here in Austin have our own little cross to bear which manifests itself in the many Republicans who come here from suburban Houston and Dallas, not to mention the rural hinterlands.

    Seriously, Austinites, I know it's not in your nature to be mean. But it's time we shame these people into acting right. By making them as uncomfortable as they can possibly be. Up first, TOM CRADDICK.

    CradDICK, as we at McB have come to know him, was recently caught cutting a TSA security line at Bergstrom. Because he and Nadine had to get back to Midland. Hey, Tom, it's not our fault you live in Midland and there's only one flight a day. Get to the airport on time like the rest of us. There's no love lost between myself and TSA. However, it's not nearly as bad as it used to be and one of the nice folks at Love even told me we can now take cigarette lighters on flights which takes care of about 75% of my problems with them. Simply put, this was an abuse of power... and it's time we pay it back in kind.

    You're elected to serve, not be served. If you can't live with that then it's time you move on down the road, Tom.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    June 27, 2008

    No, really. You really are the suck, John Davis

    Just to let y'all know, this is cut and paste copy from Vince at Capital Annex. I didn't want y'all to think I was plagiarizing. Actually, that's not true. I really don't care what you think.

    If you have been following the videos we released on Monday and Tuesday, no doubt your appetite has been sufficiently whetted and you are eager to know just exactly who the most endangered Republican in the Texas House that you don't know actually is. Wait no longer, as the answer is below:

    What makes John Davis the most endangered Republican in the Texas House? It's a good question, and we've got the answer.

    John Davis is out of touch with his district. HD 129 is a district that includes El Lago, Nassau Bay, Seabrook, Shoreacres, Taylor Lake Village, and Webster and parts of Friendswood, Houston, La Porte, League City, Pasadena, and Pearland--all in Harris County.

    A common misconception is that HD 129 is a "silk stocking" House District full of wealthy folks. That's not true, however. While a majority of families do have an annual income of over $50,000 according to the 2000 Census (the most recent numbers broken out by House District), the population of HD 129 is more "middle class" than anything.

    Davis' voting record, however, is pretty shoddy when it comes to the needs of middle class families.

    Davis voted for tuition deregulation. It doesn't take a genius to tell you that middle class families have been impacted significantly by the Legislature's decision in 2003 to deregulate college tuition. It has become very difficult for middle class families to afford to send their kids to college because tuition costs are skyrocketing. Clearly, tuition deregulation is not a middle class value that the people of House District 129 support. Davis has even put the interests of one of his big supporters, Houston home builder Bob Perry, above middle class students who want a college education when it came time to cast votes on the Appropriations Bill on the House floor!

    He's for dirty air. Once again, it doesn't take a genius to tell you that the air quality in Harris county is somewhat lacking. Heck, even the American Journal of Epidemiology has taken note of the fact that lung cancer mortality in Harris County is high--and that isn't because more people in Harris County enjoy the occasional Marlboro or Kool, either. Yet John Davis--time and time again--has voted against improving the air quality in his own district. Here is some of what Davis actually has to say about this topic:

    "It's much cleaner than it was 20-30 years ago. I believe we are on the right track. I don't want to choke off industry.

    You can also watch a YouTube of Davis actually making that statement here.

    Davis also voted for raising taxes on small businesses. Even though Republicans are typically pro-business, Davis is surely no friend of small business. Even others in his own party call the tax John Davis supported an "abject failure." Taxing small businesses out of business isn't exactly a middle class value, either.

    And, there is plenty more where that came from: Davis voted to disenfranchise minorities and the elderly (Voter ID), to waste taxpayer dollars on state-funded lobbyists (more than once), and even allowing the state to seize homes of Medicaid patients (HB 2922).

    Does Davis share his district's values? We think not.

    Davis' failure to reflect the values of his district alone, however, doesn't make him endangered. It is, rather, a variety of factors.

    One of the key factors that makes Davis terribly endangered is the quality of his opponent, Democrat Sherrie Matula, and the campaign she is running down in HD 129.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    June 24, 2008

    Where a certain R gets his money...

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    The most endangered R you don't know

    Oh, and there's more to come... just wait.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:27 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    June 04, 2008

    TXDOT, Tolls and riding off into the Sunset

    Some interesting things floating 'round the sphere...

  • Both Sal and EOW have the deets on the Sunset Commission's report. All in all, nothing terribly exciting and they're sticking with a Gubernatorial appointment to head the TXDOT, albeit shrinking the number to one person. We're continuing to think three elected officials would be better than any number of appointees, especially if elected to staggered terms.
  • 3 TXDOT officials plead guilty to taking bribes and rumors continue to circulate that Amadeo Saenz is involved.
  • TXDOT, after YEARS of ignoring Texas Democrats in Congress and spending lavishly (and illegally) on some of Tom Delay's former staffers turned lobbyists, is going hat in hand to those very same Representatives. A word of advice to the D's who are about feel the love... disregard it. Stomp on these people and create a federal law banning that unique form of corporate welfare known as the public private partnership
  • Is Perry contemplating a special session to kill 391 commissions (the citizen planning commissions that are right now creating very real problems for infrastructure privatization and the TTC)? In an election year? Are you kidding me? If he does, I'll put my money on the Lege being pissed and not doing much of anything. Which would be absolutely perfect for the Democrats running
  • Finally... proof that toll roads really are made of inferior materials and construction standards. I'll never drive over another toll bridge without thinking about disintegrating, substandard concrete
  • Can Sen. Hinjosa make TXDOT his bitch? One things for sure, he's actually achieving something unlike a certain fatass blowhard we could mention. Good thing the people of North Dallas have a choice this year.
  • Speaking of the Lege, it's pretty clear that 39% and TXDOT really aren't in a moderating mood...

    "While I am looking forward to addressing this issue [transportation] when the Legislature meets in 2009, " Perry said, "the state cannot afford to repeat 2007. Members of the Legislature must understand that 'no' is not a solution to this challenge. It is an abdication of responsibility." Perry made clear his determination to defend the renting of state right-of-way to private companies in exchange for a fee and building and operating a toll road.

    Actually, you ridiculous twerp, selling off your roads IS AN ABDICATION OF RESPONSIBILITY. Not only that, but you and your appointees are so incompetent or corrupt that you didn't even get us a good price. Probably because you're, again, either too incompetent or corrupt to calculate the present value of a revenue stream over time.

    This preceded their new Statement on Toll Projects which I'll take a moment to summarize and explain.

    1) Not selling the tolls roads... This is pretty dumb since a 50 or more year lease is widely considered a functional sale. In my industry, we call it a leasehold.
    2) No roads will be owned by foreign entities. No, but the leases will be held by them.
    3) We'll have a way to buy back the roads. Sure, but at what price? I don't expect the crack team at TXDOT to do a good job negotiating this. They're completely out of their element, just as former Commissioner Williamson clearly was.
    4) Tolls will be initially set by TXDOT, with formulas and government input for increases. Input isn't control. Nice try, Deidre, but only an idiot would fall for that turn of phrase.
    5) No restrictions or non-competes? I'll believe it when I see it, Deidre.
    6) Freeways not converted... but if we shrink down the freeway lanes to add a lane, we'll call that added capacity and we'll toll it

    This, my friends, is the translation. If you're dumb enough to fall for ANYTHING from this Commission, then you really don't deserve any spot at the table.

    All in all, this pretty solidly leaves corporate welfare proponents in the drivers seat and continues to ignore the most cost effective solution, which Burka NAILED.

    At the end of the day, this is so transparently a 'Let's give a perpetual revenue stream to a campaign contributor (ZACHRY)' that it surprises me so many 'fiscal conservatives' are in favor of it. Wonder if they're getting paid by Zachry as well. I already know 39% is.

  • Hava goodun!

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:04 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    May 22, 2008

    Help Them Help You

  • Annie's List is matching your donation to Diana Maldonado . Go give her some money already!
  • John Sharp is having a fundraiser for Sherrie Matula tonight.
    Thursday, May 22, 5 - 7 PM

    Aquarelle Restaurant, 606 Rio Grande Street, Austin


    hors d'oeuvres & refreshments


    Requested Donation:$50 (but all contributions gratefully accepted)


    Sponsorships$2,500, $1,000, $500, $250, $125


    For information: 512-535-1235

    Or, if you're a good person, you could just click here to donate. I first met Sherrie in 2006 and LOVE her.
  • Until we put these two in the House, they can't do much for you other than complain. Help elect them today by throwing them even $5. You really will feel better about your self. And maybe women (or men) will want to meet you and get to know you 'in a special way'.

    I'm not promising anything but I'll admit I'm more inclined to view someone's advances favorably if they give money to good causes, like Democratic Candidates. If they give money to the GOP, they're worthy of a donkey punch. See how that works?

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 21, 2008

    Leo Berman : The Prince of Hypocrisy

    Sal Costello has the story on Leo Berman's promise to kill the TTC next session...

    Mr. Costello:

    A number of legislators are committed to killing the TTC next session. Sen. Kevin Eltife and I have gone public with that commitment. Both of us will work hard toward that end.

    Sincerely,
    Leo Berman
    State Rep. District 6

    What little old Leo isn't saying is that he VOTED TO BUILD THE DAMN THING NOT ONCE BUT TWICE.


    TWICE

    We at McBlogger would like to welcome Berman to the fight against the TTC and toll roads. We'd like to start by asking him to commit to making the remaining sections of Loop 49 NON TOLL.

    Yeah, we knew he'd balk on that. Idiot.

    Berman, a word of advice. Don't grandstand on this. You vote and that's it. Hey, it's nice and all for you to finally be paying attention to your constituents, instead of CradDICK, but you need to know no one really likes you.

    Beside, you'll have very little power in January. You'll be part of the minority. Better be wise and join in with the Democrats on this. If you don't, a replacement will be easy to find in 2010. And I've already seen the oppo book on you.


    Posted by mcblogger at 02:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 27, 2008

    Gearing up for more voucher crap...

    The reality is that vouchers are not a panacea. They aren't even working where they've been tried.

    Voucher students' test scores in the year the study covered were roughly the same as public school students'; the study also found voucher students scored below the national average, between the 28th and 39th percentile, on national reading, math, and science tests.

    A frequent argument made against them, that the vouchers won't provide enough money to the poor to put their kids in anything but a parochial school, is in fact true. Even the Catholics can't run schools as cheap as the public education system which is really the crux of the entire 'how to improve education' debate. There are two things you need. One, is a change in what teachers are teaching and a return to a more formalistic curriculum. The other is more money.

    What? You too are tired of the kids getting a Wal Mart education? Well, here's what we need to do. Pump money into schools and restandardize the curriculum. The pennies we save by underfunding public education end up costing us billions in lost wages, productivity and taxes down the road. It's time for conservatives to realize that conservatism is about more than just cutting taxes and spending. It's about spending money on things that matter.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 12, 2008

    CradDICK and Dewhearse SPRING into action

    You know, it DOES make me laugh a little to think of tweedle dee and tweedle dum 'springing into action' on anything. Far more likely that they'd be moving with all deliberate sloth. However, this time they are actually being aggressive on transportation funding... and it has nothing to do with tolling.

    The short letter — signed by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, House Speaker Tom Craddick, Senate Finance Chairman Steve Ogden and House Appropriations Chairman Warren Chisum — recommends that TxDOT borrow another $1.5 billion against future gas tax revenue to bridge a temporary financial tight spot. The Legislature, the letter promises, will make sure that some of the gas tax money now diverted to other, nonhighway-construction needs will be returned to the agency to back the bonds.

    Left unsaid? An increase of (and indexing) the gas tax which is what the majority of Texans want and what will likely happen as tolling falls completely off the cliff.

    TXDOT, predictably, shifted the response on the letter back to the Governor. Retard Rick's spokesman, Robert Black, said that 39% wasn't interested in any of this and that the Lege would have to reopen road privatization 'to the lowest bidder'.

    "What this letter is asking TxDOT to do is a two-year stopgap, two years of going further into debt," Black said. "A long-term solution comes first. Last year the Legislature came in and all they did was say 'no.' With the rate this state is growing and the needs and challenges we have in transportation, we can't afford to say 'no' anymore."

    Just as a side note, does Black rock or what? I mean, the guy goes to work for a terrible pig of a man who spends an inordinate amount of time pandering to every special interest that will listen and who may be one of the worst Governors in the history of the State of Texas. Seriously, when we look at his association with privatization interests and the political contributions from them coupled with his support for their cause... well, it looks an awful lot like corruption. And this is what Black has to work with. Robert, I know we used to make fun of you but I've developed a new kind of respect for you. What's your trick? Anti-anxiety meds with a vodka chaser?

    But back to the issue at hand... TXDOT's 'financial crises'. TXDOT said it was cutting all constructions projects because of a lack in future years of money to pay for them. Money that the Lege has simply not appropriated. Which is a bit like me saying I won't do my job now because I may or may not get my expense reimbursement in June, 2010. I got news for the folks at TXDOT... you let the Lege worry about your funding. You build the damn roads.

    I guess that's a big part of the problem with TXDOT right now. It's controlled by our idiot Governor, Retard Rick, and overly politicized. These folks don't really do their jobs, they don't know how. They're mostly political hacks. The other big problem is that THEY DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW TO COUNT.

    TxDOT had announced the construction slowdown in November, citing inflation in construction costs and cutbacks in federal grants. In early February, at a hearing called by two Senate committees, TxDOT revealed that it had double-counted $1.1 billion in scheduling construction projects. That mistake, officials said at the time, had a lot to do with the crunch.

    The state auditor is now looking at TxDOT's finances.

    There's your funding gap, morons. GET. TO. WORK.

    And to our friends at the Lege who will no doubt read this, y'all need to go hyper aggressive against TXDOT. How about dismantling them next year and reconstituting the TTC to make it composed of statewide elected officials, like the RRC?

    Seriously, we can't afford to wait out Retard Rick. Hope Andrade alone could do some serious damage and not even realize it.


    Posted by mcblogger at 09:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 29, 2008

    Tara Rios Ybarra and a rabbi walk into a bar

    Stop me if you've heard this one before. Texas Republicans, specifically CradDICK, can't get rid of a State Rep (Juan Escobar), who is all the time actually representing his district and making his constituents happy, in a general election. So, they decide to run someone in the Democratic Primary. That person is Tara Rios Ybarra. Vince has more up on her fundraising (lots and lots of money from TLR) as well as some information on her primary consultant whose client lists reads like a biblical list of demons.

    Don't look at me that way... How would YOU describe a list that includes 39%, Todd Baxter and Ben Bentzin?

    Unfortunately, it doesn't end there. There is also Marisa Marquez in El Paso. She's running against Rep. Moreno. Here's what Moreno's campaign has to say about her...

    “Marisa Marquez has shown time and again that when it’s time to live up to her campaign rhetoric, she falls short every time,” stated Roger Garza, spokesperson for the Paul Moreno campaign. “How can voters honestly expect to believe that she is not a Craddick Democrat when Marquez consistently takes money from Tom Craddick’s staunchest supporters?”

    Given her funding, which clearly speaks for itself, I'm going to agree with Garza.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 28, 2008

    Dawnna Dukes and the art of lying like a rug

    Dawnna Dukes, unable to refute the arguments made against her re-election and without a leg to stand on, has resorted to out and out lies about her opponent, Brian Thompson.

    Oh, and she STILL HASN'T FILED AN ACCURATE ETHICS REPORT. STILL. WE'VE BEEN WAITING BUT THERE'S BEEN NOTHING. Much like what she's done for her constituents, there has been


    NOTHING.

    Full text of the release from the Thompson campaign is after the jump. When you're done seething about all this, feel free to volunteer for Thompson or send him a few bucks. He needs it and District 46 desperately needs new leadership.

    Desperate Dukes Lies in Ads Thompson to File Temporary Restraining Order, Says, "I won't be swift-boated" In a desperate move eerily reminiscent of the Republican tactics that characterize her 'Swift Boat' donors, Craddick Democrat Dawnna Dukes has resorted to bald-faced lies to smear her Democratic challenger, Brian Thompson.

    "Dawnna Dukes is following the same script of lies and deception authored by the Republican 'Swift Boat' donors who just happen to be funding her campaign," said Democratic challenger Brian Thompson. "It is pathetic that a 14-year incumbent has such a dismal record that she has to rely on bald-faced lies to try and save her job, a job that apparently kept her from paying her taxes but didn't keep her from taking a luxury vacation to France when Republicans were passing a tax bill by one vote."

    Here are the undisputed, irrefutable facts about Brian Thompson's voting record.

    FACT: Democrat Brian Thompson voted in Travis County in 2002.
    FACT: Democrat Brian Thompson voted in Travis County in 2005.
    FACT: Democrat Brian Thompson voted in Travis County in 2006.
    FACT: Democrat Brian Thompson voted in Travis County in 2007.
    FACT: Democrat Brian Thompson voted in the Democratic Primary eight days ago, on 2/19/2008 at the Fiesta on 381/2 Street, just a few feet from his East Austin home.

    The television ad that Dawnna Dukes is continuing to air says, "her opponent, well, he never even bothered to vote ever."

    That is nothing more than a bald-faced lie that is quickly proven totally incorrect and inaccurate by the most cursory glance at any number of publicly available documents. These documents proving Thompson's voting record have already been presented to Dukes, and every television station airing these totally false ads.

    Apparently, Dukes simply refuses to let the truth or any semblance of decency get in the way of her desperate campaign to totally misrepresent Thompson's voting record.

    On Monday, Thompson sent a letter to Dukes, KXAN, KVUE, KEYE, KTBC, Time Warner Cable, and the Austin American-Statesman alerting them to the blatant lies in the Dukes campaign ad. Because those ads are still running, Thompson has been left with no choice but to seek a temporary restraining order to have the inaccurate ads pulled.

    This afternoon, Thompson will seek injunctive relief from a Travis County judge, and ask that the inaccurate ads be thrown off the air.

    Thompson personally informed Dukes that her ads were blatant lies at the Cherrywood Neighborhood Association meeting on Thursday, February 21, 2008. After that meeting, Dukes had personal knowledge that her ads lied about Thompson's voting record. Dukes decided to run the false ads anyway, despite their total inaccuracies.

    "Ms. Duke's intentional effort to score cheap political points by lying about my voting record is merely the latest example in a long line of troubling yet deliberate attempts she has engaged in to mislead the public," Thompson said.

    Dukes has acknowledged misreporting 8 years (and approximately $89,000) worth of expenses charged on 18 different campaign credit cards. Even though she promised multiple news outlets more than two months ago that she would fix these mistakes, she still has yet to do so. She continues to mislead her constituents and deny them the opportunity to see exactly how she spent $89,000 worth of campaign funds before they have the chance to vote on March 4.

    In addition, according to a KEYE News report titled, "Records show Texas State Rep. Dawnna Dukes failed to pay taxes," she misled her constituents by failing to pay her own taxes and follow the very laws she has been entrusted to pass. Rather than accept responsibility for her tax troubles, she offered three contradictory excuses on three different occasions, misleading the public again about why she refused to pay her taxes. Despite her unwillingness to fulfill her tax obligations in a timely manner, she still managed to pay for a luxury trip to Paris while skipping a crucial school finance vote on the Texas House floor.

    Now, Dukes has chosen to focus her pattern of deception on Thompson, and intentionally lie about his voting record to score cheap political points.

    "I'm not going to be swift-boated by a Craddick Democrat who just pocketed a $24,000 check from the largest Republican donor in Texas; the same man who gave more than $4,000,000 to the reprehensible 'Swift Boat' attack ads," Thompson said.


    Posted by mcblogger at 11:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 26, 2008

    Texas House News O The Day - Thompson and Betty Brown

  • Dawnna Dukes is still, despite her protests to the contrary, taking money from forces aligned with Speaker CradDICK. Some of her contributors include Bob Perry And Harold Simmons (of Swiftboat fame) and Michael Stevens who is one of the largest Republican donors in Texas (in terms of dollars, not physical size)

    Brian Thompson could seriously use some of your help... financial or volunteer. If you want better government, then you gotta work to make it happen, folks!

    Just for fun, here's a great video from Thomspon and the endorsement from the Slag (hey! Everyone gets one right every now and then!)

  • Betty Brown up in HD 4 has a serious challenger named Wade Gent. Yeah, they're both Republicans. However, like with some Democrats, there are good and bad Republicans. Gent is a good one who genuinely cares about the people in the district and wants to serve them. Betty Brown would rather toll the whole district, which is exactly what the big business funded Empower Texans wants.

    ET has sent out a mailer on Betty's behalf claiming that her opponent has taken money from 'librul casino interests'. It's all a lie since the family in question, The LaMantia's, have given a ton of money to mostly Republicans... like Speaker CradDICK and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, both of whom are supported by none other than Betty Brown. Which makes Betty a pretty big hypocrite.

    The letter claims that Betty is a leader in the Texas House but the reality is that she's, at best, a back bencher with no real power despite being an ardent supporter of Speaker CradDICK. Why else would it take so long for necessary transportation projects in her district to get done? The reality is that the projects now being built were shoved through by former State Rep. Clyde Alexander who was far and away more effective than the tired, old Brown.

    They've even gone so far as to cast Betty Brown as a reformer. Which she most certainly is not. Of course, the M Q Sullivan of ET would never want anyone to know about how Betty Brown voted to raise taxes on the middle class and reduce them on the wealthy in some kind trickle down experiment that did exactly what Democrats said it would do... PROVIDE NO PROPERTY TAX RELIEF. Further, her stupid experiments in reforming school funding have resulted in little additional money going to schools. Betty's answer? Throw up your hands, abandon responsibility and talk about how great vouchers would be.

    That's pretty ballsy, Betty... to admit you're such a screw up that you can't fix the problem you were hired to solve but STILL want to keep your job? Wouldn't it be great if we could all abandon our responsibilities and give up, yet still get to keep our jobs like Betty Brown of Terrell?

  • Posted by mcblogger at 01:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 23, 2008

    Tolls : Overspending; Safety Concerns and more

  • It should come as no surprise that despite TXDOT's protestations of poverty, they still found the time to give TXDOT MANAGERS thousands of dollars each from a massive taxpayer funded bonus pool. It shouldn't surprise anyone because it's always the Republican way to give money to managers... not the people who actually, you know, do the work.
  • Senator Hinojosa is thinking about sunsetting TXDOT? Oh, be still my beating heart! However, we'd much rather you just got rid of the management. Like the 'tards Saenz and Houghton. Seriously, even for Republicans y'all are pretty damn stupid.
  • There's a rumor going around that Rep. Leo Berman (R - I CAN DO WHAT I WANT) recently told a crowd that he didn't care if taxpayers wanted an indexed gas tax, he was only for toll roads and he'd never work to index the gas tax.

    Does he have a Republican opponent? Or D running against him?

  • No one in East Texas likes TTC - 69. And those good folks own lots of guns.
  • Toll roads are in even worse shape than non-toll roads? You mean privatization isn't giving us better roads? Say it ain't so
  • Posted by mcblogger at 04:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 21, 2008

    In which we endorse candidates (Outside of Austin)

    This is list of races and the candidates we're endorsing around the State of Texas in the Democratic Primary.

    HD 36

    Sandra Rodriguez is our pick in a race pitting her against Rep. Kino Flores. The only thing that distinguishes Flores is his support for Republican Speaker CradDICK. That and his ethics issues.

    HD 20

    Leonard Surrat is the best choice for Williamson County Democrats.

    SD 11

    We're endorsing Joe Jaworski in this race. He's the best candidate for a number of reasons, among them are his professional experience and the fact that he's clearly positioned best to beat 'Toxic' Mike Jackson.

    The rest of these people we're just going to blanket endorse. Many of them have served for years, some are running against CradDICK D's or are being challenged by CradDICK D's. All deserve your support.

    State Representative, District 43 - Rep. Juan Escobar
    Fighting against Tara Ybarra Rios. A Republican in Democratic clothing.

    State Representative, District 77 - Rep. Paul Moreno

    State Representative, District 140 - Armando Walle
    Running against Rep. Kevin Bailey who really needs to be retired.

    State Representative, District 145 - Carol Alvarado

    State Representative, District 146 - Rep. Borris Miles
    A little crazy at times? Perhaps. The alternative, though, is unthinkable. It's Al Edwards. Ugh.

    State Representative, District 147 - Rep. Garnet Coleman
    Really? You need to be told to vote for this guy? Really? Just go do it!

    Posted by mcblogger at 03:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Making the funny go away... The Watson Incident

    There are two rules in comedy:

    1) NEVER try to piggyback off another comic's work
    2) NEVER forget the first rule

    Hank Klinger and the always late to the party (to the point where they're hanging out with the dregs) TXGOP, sent out an email this AM about Kirk's little incident on MSNBC. The same one that ran out of funny about the time Kirk sent out an email OWNING the gaffe and making it just another part of who he is.

    We had three posts about this up by noon yesterday. It took the TXGOP almost 48 hours to get something mediocre out. Want to know why Republican's suck? Because they're stupid and slow and have all the comedic genius of Larry, The Cable Guy.

    You're lame, Hans. LLLAAAMMMEEEE!

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 18, 2008

    Touble ahead for Dukes

    Matt's at BOR has been doing some great work keeping the spotlight on Dukes. now it turns out we haven't been the only ones looking at her. It appears that KEYE is also getting it on the action...

    Tonight at 10:00pm, investigative reporter Nanci Wilson of KEYE News will be airing an expose on Craddick Democrat, Dawnna Dukes. Yesterday, KEYE teased the story repeatedly. According to the previews aired yesterday, Dukes is running a defunct company that has accepted state dollars, her car has been repossessed, and subcontractors have sued her for non-payment.

    Perhaps she couldn't find a way to pay those bills with her campaign credit card.

    Tune in to KEYE Channel 42, or for cable subscribers on Channel 5 or in High Definition on 305 tonight at 10:00 to watch.

    And remember, Dukes's opponent Brian Thompson is having his final fundraiser tonight from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Belmont on 6th. We are only $300 away from getting the $1,000 match from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous until the 8 day out report. Help raise $300 today.

    Could this be yet another in a series of questionable practices by Dukes? Can't wait to see what the people at KEYE have come up with.

    Finally, I'd just like to ask once again... where is that damn ethics report, Dawnna? It's been almost 10 weeks and nada.

    Posted by barfly at 02:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 15, 2008

    Sandra Rodriguez is NOT Kino Flores

    Matt over at BOR has a great piece up about the Flores/Rodriguez race. I know it will surprise none of you, but we're for Sandra Rodriguez. We support her in large part because she's intelligent, talented and will be an excellent representative for the people of HD 36. We also think she'll be much better than Kino Flores by virtue of the fact (and we've confirmed this) that she's NOT Kino Flores.

    Kino was one of the members of the Iscariot Caucus. His proudest achievement is continuing the corrupt Speakership of Tom Craddick. So, if you want to help Sandra out, click here. Needless to say, it's a bit like giving money to someone doing God's work.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 13, 2008

    Tolls : A week of fun

  • Carona comes out in favor of raising the gas tax. He still won't commit to ending toll deals which is a real concern. The reality is that tolling isn't a good way to raise money. Period. It's not good for taxpayers and it's certainly not good for invesotrs.
  • Speaking of investors, they're taking a bath on the Central Texas toll roads...

    According to that statement, the three roads will make $8.7 billion in toll revenue through 2042. In that same time, there will be $7.2 billion in debt payments for that borrowed $2.2 billion, $1.1 billion in operations costs, $752 million in routine maintenance and $388 million for long-term maintenance. The net of all that? Almost $750 million in the hole over 35 years.

    More like an economic jalopy.

    Yeah, the traffic projections aren't panning out either. Traffic is about 73% of the projections. Didn't see that one coming

  • TURF's suit moves ahead with depositions due this week from TTC Commissioners Saenz and Houghton. Good luck, TURF!
  • In other privatization news, the Camino Columbia toll road (the first private 'superhighway' in Texas) was sold... to one of it's original investors. The road was built for $90million and sold for $12million. What a great investment! If you're looking for other great investments with a similar return, you might try Bear Stearns. I hear they are trying to unload some SIV's chock full of subprime paper.

    Posted by mcblogger at 06:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 11, 2008

    Does Bob Perry own John Davis?

    He does,according to John Davis.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Endorsement vomit

    I thought I would wait and just do one post about all the recent endorsements out... It's like some rank tasting medicine. Better all at once.

  • Rick Noriega was endorsed on the D side of the US Senate race by the Texas State Teachers Assoc. over Ray McMurrey who is a teacher
  • CapCity YD's also announced their endorsements. I'd join this if I could find someone who'd take my money. I thought y'all loves alcoholic bloggers? Where's the love, Kim?
    U.S. Senate: Richard J. (Rick) Noriega
    U.S. House of Representatives, District 10: Dan Grant
    Texas Railroad Commissioner: Art Hall
    Texas Supreme Court, Seat 7: Sam Houston
    Texas Supreme Court, Seat 8: Susan Criss (in a runoff with Linda Reyna Yanez)
    Texas State Rep. Dist. 46: Brian T. Thompson (unanimously)
    353rd District Court Judge: Scott Ozmun
    427th District Court Judge: Jim Coronado
    Judge, 98th District Court: Andy Hathcock
    Judge, County Court at Law #8: John Lipscombe
    Travis County District Attorney: Rosemary Lehmberg (in a runoff with Gary Cobb)
    Travis County Tax Assessor/Collector: Glen Maxey
    Travis County Democratic Party Chair: Andy Brown
    Travis County Commissioner, Precinct 3: Karen Huber
    Travis County Constable, Precinct 1: Willie Joe Madison
    Travis County Constable, Precinct 2: Paul Labuda
    Travis County Constable, Precinct 3: Richard McCain
    Travis County Constable, Precinct 4: Maria Canchola
  • Dan Grant was endorsed by Rep. Senfronia Thompson. This is a huge deal for us, at least, because we love us some Senfronia!
  • Posted by mcblogger at 10:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 05, 2008

    Give Brian Some Love

    PhotobucketTravis County is the bluest county in Texas and on March 4th, voters have a chance to make it a TRUE BLUE Delegation in the Texas Legislature. Brian Thompson is running against Dawwna Dukes for District 46. Brian has received every major endorsement in the Travis County area and for good reason. He cares about the district and is willing to vote for the people of Texas instead of supporting Tom Craddick and his minions who have thrown children of SCHIP, stolen women's rights away each legislative session, sold out Texas land owners for the Trans Texas Corridor, and were instrumental in writing legalized discrimination into the Texas Constitution.

    Click here to help Brian beat Dawnna Dukes.

    Brian Thompson has been endorsed by the Texas Progressive Alliance. He has also been endorsed by :

    Austin Progressive Coalition
    University Democrats
    Victory Fund
    Central Austin Democrats
    Texas Environmental Democrats
    Southwest Austin Democrats
    Capital Area Progressive Democrats
    Teamsters Local 657
    Capital Area Asian American Democrats
    Austin Stonewall Democrats
    South Austin Democrats
    Austin Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus

    Brain has also been endorsed by Lon Burnam
    House District 80

    Lon Burnam is the only Democrat in the House who has voted against Craddick from the beginning. It is time we had more strong Democrats in the Texas Legislature who are not afraid to speak out against the autocratic rule of
    Tom Craddick and the devastation which is being wrought on Texas and our quality of life. The time has come to hold our elected officials accountable for their action and non-action when it comes to taking care of their districts and the rest of Texas.

    Brian is willing to work to make the quality of life better for all Texans and not just a select few. Teachers and students alike will have a strong advocate in the Ledge once Brian is elected. Women and children will not
    have to worry about their rights being stolen from them by the privileged who can buy their way out of any problem and are willing to let the rest of Texas suffer. Our retired teachers will not see Brian vote against a raise in their pension. Brian will be at the forefront leading the charge for changes and fighting injustice as an elected officials should be instead of skipping votes or voting the right way but not speaking out. It is time for strong leadership in HD46. Brian will be a welcome addition to some of the already strong voices for Texas and Travis County!

    Go help Brian today!

    Posted by mcblogger at 03:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    See Dawnna Vote

    You've heard time and time again why Dawnna Dukes is wrong for her district. However, much of that has centered around her absenteeism, campaign finance reports, and "Vegas Vacation."

    But, what about her voting record? Dukes apologists claim that her voting record is in line with her district. But, it isn't. Here are a large number of reasons you should support TexRoots candidate Brian Thompson in the House District 46 race.

    Dawnna Dukes has voted against renewable energy. Dukes voted against requiring that a certain portion of money from Governor Perry's slush funds, (aka the Texas Enterprise Fund and Texas Emerging Technology Fund) be required to be spent on companies that develop renewable energy technologies. [House Bill 1, 80th Legislature, Amendment 8, Record Vote 220, House Journal, p. 1275 & House Bill 1, 80th Legislature, Amendment 12, Record Vote 221, House Journal, p. 1277.]

    Dawnna Dukes has voted against Texas children. Dawnna Dukes thought that making sure Governor Perry could give corporate welfare to his campaign contributors was more important than at-risk youth. She voted against taking money from the Emerging Technology Fund to fund programs for at-risk youth prevention with the Department of Family and Protective Services, and voted against additional funding for the same program in another instance on the same day. [House Bill 1, 80th Legislature, Amendment 18, Record Vote 223, House Journal, p. 1283 & House Bill 1, 80th Legislature, Amendment 21, Record Vote 226, House Journal, p. 1278].

    Dawnna Dukes voted against HIV/AIDS Prevention. Dawnna Dukes betrayed hundreds of thousands of Texans who need to be educated about the dangers of HIV/AIDS. [House Bill 1, 80th Legislature, Amendment 29, Record Vote 228, House Journal, p. 1291.]

    Dawnna Dukes Voted Against Quality Schools & College Students. Dawnna Dukes thought it was more important for the Office of State Federal Relations' budget to have enough money to hire Washington lobbyists than to put more money in the Teach for Texas Loan Repayment Program, which serves to recruit and retain quality public school teachers and help college graduates who are over-burdened with student loans. [House Bill 1, 80th Legislature, Amendment 76, Record Vote 236, House Journal, p. 1324]

    Dwanna Dukes Voted Against Halting Public Corruption. Dukes didn't believe it was important to fund the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County DA's office (which prosecutes public officials) at higher levels. She thought courthouse preservation was more important. [House Bill 1, 80th Legislature, Amendment 84, Record Vote 240, House Journal, p. 1331.]

    Dawnna Dukes Voted Against Clean Air. Dawnna Dukes voted against additional funding for the Texas Emission Reduction Plan grants. [House Bill 1, 80th Legislature, Amendment 98, Record Vote 242, House Journal, p. 1345.]

    Dawnna Dukes Voted For State Funding For Washington Lobbyists. Dawnna Dukes voted against restrictions that would have prevented state funding being used for hiring Washington Lobbyists. [House Bill 1, 80th Legislature, Amendment 132, Record Vote 246, House Journal, p. 1363.]

    Dawnna Dukes Voted Against Restoring CHIP To Pre-2003 Levels. Dawnna Dukes voted against restoring CHIP to pre-2003 levels and voted against using all federal funds appropriated to the state for the Children's Health Insurance Program to actually insure children. [House Bill 109, 80th Legislature, Amendment 23, Record Vote 279, House Journal, p. 1522.] She also voted against paying providers for care provided to eligible CHIP recipients in the event of a state error that led to a child being dropped or denied coverage. [House Bill 109, 80th Legislature, Amendment 24, Record Vote 280, House Journal, p. 1523.]

    Dawnna Dukes Voted Against Infant Children. Dawnna Dukes voted to require infant children to be subjected to a waiting period for CHIP qualification. [House Bill 109, 80th Legislature, Amendment 26, Record Vote 282, House Journal, p. 1525]

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 04, 2008

    Paul Moreno - Progressive Leadership for Texas

    (McBlogger's note : We're doing something new to promote TexRoots candidates. Today, It's Rep. Moreno)

    This election season, Tom Craddick and his allies are playing a skillful game of chess. Recognizing that he is unlikely to gain any votes for his continued Speakership in the general election--as Republicans are projected to fall like flies across the state--Craddick has, in effect moved all of his pawns on the chessboard into Democratic districts in an attempt to defeat progressive, anti-Craddick state representatives.

    One district where Tom Craddick has deployed his pawns is Texas House District 77, against none other than the Dean and Conscience of the Texas House--Rep. Paul Moreno (D-El Paso).

    Paul Moreno was born in El Paso. He served six years as a U.S. Marine in Korea, and was awarded the Silver Star and numerous Bronze Stars. He earned his bachelor's degree from Texas Western College (now UT-El Paso), and a law degree from UT School of Law. He was first elected to the Texas House in 1967, and is among the longest serving members of that body, and the longest serving Latino elected official in America.

    Paul Moreno has a distinguished record of public service to his district, and the entire state. He has been endorsed as part of the Texas Progressive Alliance's TexRoots 08 slate, and needs our support.

    Some of the most important legislation of the past three decades bears Moreno's fingerprints, such as The Bilingual Education Act of 1983-84. Moreno, along with the Mexical American Legislative Caucus (of which he was the first Chair in 1975), helped push this legislation through the House. He fought to add farmworkers to the unemployment compensation legislation for the first time since 1913 in 1985. In 1987, he fought for a minimum wage bill for farm workers and helped end conservative attempts to alter House Bill 72 (comprehensive education reform).

    Too, in more than four decades in the House, Moreno has worked hard to provide El Paso's citizens with a quality public education system.

    Moreno was key to the passage of the Children's Health Insurance Program, and has fought for teacher pay raises and teacher retirement.

    Moreno has also brought billions of dollars in appropriations to the el Paso Community. The University of Texas-El Paso, Texas Tech Academic Health Science Center, and Franklin Mountain State Park are only a few institutions which have seen the benefit of Moreno's tenure.

    A member of the "Dirty Thirty" and the "Killer Ds," Paul Moreno is a true Progressive. He is a true champion for the poor, the working poor, the elderly, students, teachers, minorities, the handicapped, and more.

    Moreno is often called two things, "The Conscience of the Texas House" and "Kill Bill." He's called "Kill Bill" because, over the years, he has killed more anti-Progressive legislation than most any other members. He's called the "Conscience of the Texas House" because he is that not-so-little voice who speaks up when that body goes down the wrong path and does things that aren't in the best interest of ordinary Texans.

    Last session, following a hate-filled personal privilege speech by Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler), Rep. Moreno took the floor for a point of personal privilege. Many thought it would be the moment he announced his retirement. Instead, he renewed his commitment to the people of El Paso and the people of Texas:

    I heard that yesterday, my city, my beloved city of El Paso, was accused of having a bond issue of $240 million, or something like that, and that we were doing nothing but educating illegal aliens. When I heard that, that really hurt me. When you talk about the city of El Paso, educating illegal aliens, you're talking about my children.

    My family has been in El Paso for seven generations. Five of my brothers, and many of you have heard this, five of my brothers have served in the military. Five of my six brothers have served in the military. Two of my brothers-in-law, one of them was severely wounded in Europe. My other brother-in-law died as a result of agent orange, suffered in Vietnam. I have a cousin that was killed in Korea with me, died, from Denver. In El Paso, a very good friend of mine received the medal of honor. His name is Sandrocio Guillen, we call him El Mocho. And when they say that they're teaching illegal aliens, that hurts. That hurts very, very, very, very much. We should have the respect and the dignity that we as humans should give other people.

    We had a good government here when Pete Laney was speaker. When he was elected the first election, I voted against him. I voted against Pete Laney because I thought he wasn't liberal enough, and I voted against him, and I think I'm the only one who's ever voted against Pete Laney. But most of you members that were here, during the Pete Laney era remember the appropriations bill that we had. Pete Laney placed me in the appropriations committee and we were able to bring an appropriations bill to this house. I opened up the debate in favor of the appropriations bill, thanks to my good friend Representative Pitts. He asked me to open the debate for the approval of the appropriations bill. We passed that appropriations bill without one dissent. At that time I said, "Paul, we're doing a good job." This is Texas, this is finally America, this is finally what you've been looking for—then something happened.

    Leadership changed, and please, please, Mr. Speaker, don't take anything personal, but you have your deep political beliefs, and so does your group, and I noticed a lot of changes that happened. And when those changes happened, we started going down. Tonight I was determined to make a decision, and none of my friends changed my opinion. This country, this state, is in a worse position for Mexican Americans than it was when I first got elected. When I first got elected, there were eight of us, eight Mexican Americans. Yes, we knew—we knew our stand, we knew where we belonged. But there was respect. Now, the respect, in my opinion, has somewhat diminished. And in those days, the Mexican Americans were low in numbers, but we were still satisfied because we knew that there were very little of us and we were glad we were getting at least a little bit of it. Now things are changing.


    If you have any doubt that Paul Moreno deserves re-election to the House, you should read his personal privilege speech.

    Paul Moreno is a true progressive champion. He deserves our support, which is why he is endorsed by the Texas Progressive Alliance. Please join us in supporting Rep. Moreno by making your contribution to his campaign today, via the TPA's Act Blue page for TexRoots.

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 01, 2008

    Tolls : Polls are fun!

    As part of TURF's successful lawsuit against TXDOT, a number of embarrassing documents have been recovered. Among them is a poll conducted last year regarding the TTC. It's a push poll, meant to 'educate' respondents about all the amazing benefits of the TTC and then ask them how they fell about it.

    It's a bit like calling someone, saying that President Bush is going to give them $1,000 and asking how they feel about President Bush. I'd bet $100 that his approval would be in the mid to high 50s, instead of the 20's where he currently sits.

    The best part about it... TXDOT PAID FOR IT WITH YOUR TAX DOLLARS! The second best part, the poll is tainted and couldn't be used anyway.

    1) The sample is HEAVILY Anglo
    2) The sample was obviously concentrated into three geographic areas, Dallas Metro, Houston Metro and possibly Austin Metro.
    3) Privatization is not mentioned. Not one single time.
    4) Tolling is mentioned only in the abstract.
    5) There's no mention of the fact that TXDOT will NOT be able to make major improvements to 35 due to the special provisions of the TTC privatization agreement.
    6) There's nothing in the poll regarding TXDOT being forced by CintraZachry/Bluebonnet to drop speed limits on 35 to make the TTC more attractive.
    7) There's no mention of the fact that should the traffic figures fail to materialize, the taxpayers will be responsible for paying off the bonds... and the profits of CintraZachry/Bluebonnet
    8) The sample was not representative of average Texans in terms of party ID, income or education

    Of those that actually knew something about TTC35 or TTC69, 18% were likely to support which contrasts nicely to the 28% that were less likely. The remaining people wanted to know what was going on with Britney and K-Fed who were in a custody battle at the time.

    One thing is for sure, the more Texans find out about the TTC and the alternatives to it, the less they like the TTC. This was the Governors best shot to put perfume on this pig and it failed.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    January 29, 2008

    Roundin' up the TPA

    Another week, another edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance's weekly blog Round-Up. This week's edition is compiled by Vince from Capitol Annex, with thanks to Charles from Off The Kuff for assistance.

    Off the Kuff looks at the woes of the Harris County GOP and what it may mean in November.

    North Texas will have one less class II commercial injection well pumping toxic soup underground. Reported by TXsharon on Bluedaze.

    TXDOT has dug itself into quite a hole by using your money to lobby for the TTC and to pay for an advertising campaign to sell the wildly unpopular TTC to the citizens of Texas. McBlogger at McBlogger has the details and a great video.

    Hal at Half Empty got his TI-83 out and ran the numbers on the Presidential Primaries. Conclusion? Texas has a chance to crown a king (or queen).

    WhosPlayin? looks at the case of a teen brought up on charges for "huffing" hand sanitizer and is frustrated at the lack of discretion caused by "zero-tolerance" policies.

    The action plan for Monday's FISA-with-telecom-immunity legislation is contained in PDid's post at Brains and Eggs. Don't strain your dialing finger, and don't forget to
    call Senators Corndog and Hutch. It's a waste of time, yes, but they still need to hear from us.

    NYTexan at BlueBloggin explains who Voters, Pledged Delegates and Super Delegates are and how they influence the democratic party nomination at the convention.

    Are you a MOTO? If not, you will be after reading State Sen. Kirk Watson's guest blog this week at Capitol Annex.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Help wanted

    Dawnna Dukes is having problems getting volunteers. So, she's turned to Craigs List. While this is about as big a deal as how Ina Garten makes a tart tartine (with plums! OMG!), the funny is in the reaction from the Dukes campaign to questions about it. Well, that and the fact that an eight term incumbent can't find blockwalkers. I'm sure there's some way for some one to blame Glen Maxey for that.

    In other Dukes news, someone has finally filed an ethics complaint against Dawnna over those credit card charges. According to Copelin over at the Statesman, Dukes has STILL not committed to correcting the reports prior to the primary. Watch them get filed on March 4th.

    Finally, a little late but still relevant, Brian Thompson nailed the UDEMS/CAD endorsement over the weekend. Overwhelmingly. Please go help him today!

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    January 24, 2008

    Juan Escobar has an opponent with CradDICK connections

    Well, it would appear that Juan Escobar's opponent is being helped by none other than Joe Garcia, the Republican Leininger lobbyist who is actively supporting Mindy Montford in the Democratic Primary. I met Mindy last night (Burberry shirt, Mindy) at UDems and honestly found her to be an intelligent person who would make a great DA. Anywhere BUT Travis County.

    The unique nature of the Travis County DA's office makes this an important post in statewide politics. I'm sure there's no quid pro quo between her and her R supporters. However, politics is all about perception and the perception is damn hard to shake. Especially when you have a major supporter and contributor pushing hard to take out a good member of the Democratic Caucus in the House.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    January 23, 2008

    HD 52 Candidates in Review

    EOW has a great piece up with help from the AAS beaking down the R candidates in HD 52. The one that will probably oppose Maldonado is Daniel, the Krusee clone. He loves him some tolls which will go over big with the toll loving people in HD 52.

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    January 19, 2008

    Oh, my... this isn't at all good for Dawnna

    Since the recent revelation that Dawnna's now uncommitted in the Speakers race (which is about as believable as me saying I have a 12" cock), we've been looking for an article in the Statesman regarding Dawnna's true intention to stand by her man and finally found it courtesy of a comment by Matt to a thread about Dawnna's fundraising.

    A pro-Craddick Democrat, Rep. Dawnna Dukes of Austin, said she's sticking with him. She cited her success on measures offering incentives to companies to make movies and TV shows in Texas
    >

    Yes, her legislative initiatives to help the film industry. Turns out, she stood to personally gain on that, according to CapAnnex...

    Here’s a fact pattern that would make any 1st year law student with the intent of becoming a District Attorney froth at the mouth. And every bullet is footnoted so that you don’t have to take our word for it, you can see for yourself.

    *Dukes’s company, DM Dukes & Associates, gets hired by a company named Catellus Development Group sometime during or before 2006. (1)

    *Catellus is the developer who is redeveloping the old Robert Mueller Airport, in Dukes’s East Austin district.(2)

    *Dukes is listed on Catellus brochures as a contact. (3)

    *Dukes’s company, DM Dukes & Associates is listed on the Robert Meuller web site as a contact for Catellus. (4)

    *Dukes attends neighborhood association meetings, not in her capacity as a State Representative, but in her capacity as an agent of Catellus.(5)

    *One of the anchor tenants and crown jewels of the new Mueller Development is The Austin Film Society. (6)

    *During the legislative session in 2007, Dukes passed HB 1634, a bill that provided a mechanism for $22 million in incentives for the film industry and the Austin Film Society.(7)

    *Dukes and one of her Republican pals, Rick Perry, appeared together at a press conference and bill signing ceremony at the Austin Film Studios.(8)

    *Dukes issues a press release bragging about her bill that explicitly states that her bill will benefit the Austin Film Studios. “Film Incentive legislation will not only benefit the Austin Film Studios presently located at Robert Mueller in District 46 but also the planned $2.5 billion Villa Muse studio development to be located in District 46.” (9)

    *Dukes potentially violates Texas House Rules and the Texas Constitution by never disclosing her personal or business interest with Catellus Development.

    *Article 3 Section 22 of the Texas Constitution requires “A member who has a personal or private interest in any measure or bill, proposed, or pending before the Legislature, shall disclose the fact to the House, of which he is a member, and shall not vote thereon.”(10)

    *Rule 5 Section 42 of the Texas House Rules sets out this same requirement

    We are that the mainstream media has not picked up on this story!

    Here you have an elected official working for a multi-million dollar developer as a consultant, who then goes and gets $22 million taxpayer dollars for an incentive program that benefits one of the developers anchor tenants.

    Gee. And here we were thinking that she was at least smart enough just to steer the contracts to her sister. Go help Brian Thompson today.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    January 16, 2008

    Vicki stands by her man

    You gotta love it when people have the integrity to stand up and boldy declare they are FOR pay to play politics, greed and yes, a smattering of corruption. It shows gumption if nothing else, which is what Rep. Vicki Truitt is really all about. Well, that and rank stupidity...

    "I have not seen or experienced the injustice that you write about," Truitt said, referring to journalists who she said have unfairly portrayed Craddick as a tyrant.

    Rep. Truitt... a word of advice. You RUN from things that can hurt you. In case you didn't realize it, just the mere mention of CradDICK in a race has become enough to swing voters over to a Democrat. In a heavily Republican area. In fact, here in Texas he's become the equivalent of calling your opponent a librul. Texans hate CradDICK more than they hate libruls. Even the man's chief of staff is jumping ship.

    Granted, you may well be safe. But then again, Moffat may make this an issue and pull that seat right out from under you. Just sayin' is all.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    January 15, 2008

    A note about races in Travis County...

    For those of you who were unaware, the R's have decided to run people against Representatives Bolton and Howard. Here's Burka's CW take on things...

    Valinda Bolton (D) -- She won a Republican district in 06 but has serious opposition from Donna Keel, Terry's sister-in-law. A huge race.

    Donna Howard (D) -- Like Bolton, Howard wrested her district from Rs in 06. She faces Leander school board member Pam Waggoner. Also huge.

    Let's go with Bolton first. I know the Mayor and Captain Kroc will have more on this race. In the meantime, please keep in mind that Rep. Bolton beat a VERY well funded R in 2006 and the last name Keel means, after Terry's performance as Parliamentarian last May, corruption and part of the pay to play system. Everyone knows Keel will be supported by the Speaker and will no doubt follow his agenda which will make her about as popular in the district as someone trying to sell Amway in Lakeway. Let's also not forget that the massively unpopular Commissioner Daugherty is up for reelect this year and has a good D opponent. It'll be easier than ever for people in SW Travis County to vote for a solid D ticket.

    As for Howard, actually, Todd Baxter did a fabulous job turning this district into a Democratic one. Not to mention that Donna's done a great job for her constituents given her options. I frankly can't believe there is a Republican dumb enough to take this on but I'm obvs wrong. Look for Pam to get spanked just like Ben Bentzin.

    Posted by mcblogger at 07:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    January 07, 2008

    Polling in HD46

    Wednesday night I got a call from one of my close friends in HD46 who asked me if I knew who was running a push poll in the district. We didn't get to talk long because I was with some great people having drinks, however, we talked again Saturday and he told me it wasn't a push poll.

    We're speculating it was Dawnna trying to find out about her negatives. How deeply has information penetrated regarding the fact that most of her funding comes from Republicans like HillCo, for example. And how many people in the district know about her support of CradDICK.

    It did not ask if people knew CradDICK was a Republican. It also didn't ask if they knew about her lack of support for fully funding CHIP. It also didn't ask how folks felt about tolling their freeways.

    Wonder when that call is coming?

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    December 31, 2007

    Yes, Debbie, you're stupid

    You folks in Tomball are seriously going to have to get rid of Debbie Riddle. She's embarrassing the hell out of y'all...

    PhotobucketOne defender of ghost voting is Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, who was shown on the KVUE video voting for fellow members and justified it on grounds that the pace of House business is so demanding.

    That might be a little easier to swallow if Riddle were not such an enthusiastic supporter of a Voter ID law, which would require ordinary voters to prove their identity before casting ballots. Political hypocrisy is nothing new, but seldom is it this raw: Riddle thinks it’s OK for her to cast votes for colleagues as they make laws the rest of us have to obey.

    Posted by mcblogger at 03:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    December 28, 2007

    Help Maldonado

    Dig deep, my friends. Annie's List has agreed to match $15,000 raised by the Maldonado campaign by the end of the year. Go help her out!

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    December 21, 2007

    What about 39%'s property tax cut?

    Yeah, I didn't get mine, either much like Coby over at BAH. Of course, unlike the assholes who voted for 39%, I knew I'd never get it.

    It's because I'm smarter than y'all.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    December 15, 2007

    Uhm, yeah... we're going to need you to pay attention here

    The RRL (viaEOW )has a choice quote from one of the R's vying to run against Maldanado in HD52. If this is the caliber of person they are going to run against the popular Maldanado, you guys are sooo up shit creek.

    When asked why he is a Republican, Gordon replied: “I’m a very strong believer in individuals. Government is a necessary component, but should be looked [to] very seldomly. The more we can enhance individuals and their responsibilities, the better our society will be.”

    Gordon described himself as being pro-military and a Second Amendment supporter, stating: “The more armed our society is, the safer and more secure our society is.”

    “I’m a strong Christian,” Gordon continued. “I believe a nation must be founded on those morals, to remain strong.”

    Not to be rude, but an original thought never crossed that little rat brain of yours? My God, Maldanado is going to kcik the shit out of someone like you. Mr. Gordon, you're running for a state office, not a federal office. You don't get to override or extend the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights. Hell, I don't you even think you know what the hell it says. So let me get your clichés straight...

    1) You're for individual people doing individual things
    2) Government is a necessary component of our society (this is the most sensible thing I've heard a Republican say... normally all y'all can do is fall over yourselves bashing the government that provides roads, good schools and public safety)
    3) You support the troops - Who the fuck doesn't, asshole? Seriously, are you a fucking retard or something? Do you honestly think there is some large segment of the population that doesn't support the troops? Fukctard.
    4) You believe in the individual right to keep and bear arms (Damn! I gave away the Second Amendment)
    5) You're a strong Christian. So am I. That doesn't mean I want my kids being taught your fucked up, ass backwards beliefs or some kind of creationist bullshit. No one gives a shit if you're religious, douchebag. STFU.

    Seriously, is this the cream of the crop for y'all? At least Krusee was kinda smart when he really got going and, I'm told occasionally, even had flashes of brilliance. At least on things unrelated to school finance and transportation. Which just happen to be the most important issues in the district and on which Maldanado is in an unassailable position.

    Gordon, don't waste time and money embarrassing yourself. Baselice's polling model doesn't work in 52. You"re going to lose if you run.

    Posted by mcblogger at 06:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    December 14, 2007

    Dukes to file amended reports after being busted

    Looks like Dawnna will be taking care of that MULTI-YEAR problem with her campaign finance reports we told you about last week. Oh, and just a note for the reporter to whom Colin Struther leaked Dawnna's decision to finally come clean, John Coby was the one who actually, you know, found out about all this. He's been doing a series on the State Reps and how they spend their campaign money. You should read it since it's a good primer on campaign finance.

    It'll also keep you from being duped by someone like Colin.

    The paper also mentioned Rick Noriega who actually discovered his mistakes and reported himself. For his trouble, the board fined him $1k for reporting late. His reports were only wrong in 2006. Dawnna's problem goes back to 2000. Who knows how high her fine will be. The funny part is this...

    Colin Strother, Dukes' political consultant, said Dukes began reporting the credit card spending correctly last year after the Ethics Commission sent a reminder to lawmakers. But she had not corrected past reports.

    At least Rep. Noriega was out of the country fighting in Afghanistan when most of the charges occurred corrected it as soon as he could. Dawnna, on the other hand, just decided to file erroneous reports beginning in 2000. Then, she started filing them the right way when they sent her a 'reminder'? Oh, come on!

    Kudos to her for finally correcting them, but one has to wonder if she'd be doing that if John Coby at Bay Area Houston hadn't pointed out that she was in violation in the first place.

    And with that, I give you the weekend... stay warm, boys and girls!

    Posted by mcblogger at 05:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Texans of the Year - House Democratic Leadership

    Today, the Texas Progressive Alliance honors its 2007 Texan of the Year. This year, the Alliance elected to recognize a number of other Texans who have contributed to Texas politics and the Progressive cause during 2007. This week, leading up to the TOY announcement, we brought you our Texas Progressive Alliance Gold Stars. Thursday, we recognized State Sen. Mario Gallegos.


    07TOY


    The Texas Progressive Alliance is proud to announce the House Leadership team of State Rep. Jim Dunnam, State Rep. Garnet Coleman, and State Rep. Pete Gallego as our 2007 recipients of the Texan of the Year award.

    There may not be another three individuals who have done more for the citizens of the state of Texas over the past four years than Rep. Jim Dunnam, Rep. Pete Gallego. Together, they have led the fight for the resurgence of the Texas Democratic Party. Every day is another story. They fought through the 2006 elections and then they fought for the months leading up to the first day of session. They led the fight against Speaker Craddick in the final days of the session, and are now poised to add to the Democratic gains in the House as they continue their roles as Co-Chairs of the House Democratic Campaign Committee.

    Their work together is imperative to the continued progress of Democrats in Texas, but it's their individual efforts that really demonstrate how this leadership team makes the best of one another for the good of all Texans. Here is a brief highlight of what each of these leaders did over the past year:

    State Rep. Jim Dunnam

    When we had a mere 62 members in the House in 2003. Today, there are 70, including State Rep. Kirk England who announced his intentions to switch parties and run as a Democrat next cycle. In only 5 years, there was full frontal attack on Speaker Craddick's ability to lead, launched by one question by the Waco Democrat: "Mr. Speaker, what is the process of removing the Speaker of the Texas House?" His mastery of the House rules is incredible to watch.

    During the 80th Regular Session, Rep. Jim Dunnam led efforts to clean up the mess Governor Perry and the Republican leadership made at the Texas Youth Commission. He worked with Rep. Coleman and Rep. Gallego to lead the fight against expanding new tax cuts for the richest 10% of Texans at the expense of health care and education opportunities for Texas families. He passed numerous bills for his district, but he will forever be remembered for the efforts he made on the House floor, challenging the absolute power of Speaker Craddick.

    State Rep. Garnet Coleman

    Rep. Garnet Coleman is one of the most progressive members of the Texas House. Rep. Coleman filed over sixty piece of legislation, including (1) legislation end tuition deregulation, (2) legislation to overturn the ban on gay marriage, (3) legislation to prevent the construction of any new toll roads anywhere in the state of Texas. But beyond these strong policy positions, he successfully passed legislation to expand health care opportunities for former foster children and double the funding for cancer research. He continued his fight to fully restore CHIP -- an effort he's worked for ever since Speaker Craddick and his allies cut hundreds of thousands of kids off of health care since 2003.

    Beyond his legislative work, Rep. Coleman is the top fundraiser for Texas Democrats, and is well-known for his non-stop efforts in supporting House Democrats across the state. He chairs the Legislative Study Group, which received a Silver Star award from the TPA for its incredible policy work.

    State Rep. Pete Gallego

    Rep. Pete Gallego is the chair of of the largest bipartisan legislative caucus in the Texas House-- the Mexican American Legislative Caucus. He also sits on the national board of NALEO. He was a top lieutenant for Speaker Pete Laney, and his trust from that better time in the Texas House allows him to remain as one of the most trusted members in the Texas House.

    His policy issues are far-reaching, and can range from helping protect our state's natural resources to preventing those horrid voter ID bills behind the scenes. Rep. Gallego also helped temper some of the more controversial issues of the session, including immigration and security.

    Rep. Gallego often makes waves quietly inside the Capitol, but his efforts help thousands of Texans from all walks of life. Together, Rep. Gallego, Rep. Dunnam, and Rep. Coleman are extremely deserving for our 2007 Texan of the Year award.

    Posted by mcblogger at 05:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Dead Beat Dutton

    Y'all know I work for a bank and one of our bedrock credit policies is that we will not lend money to someone who has collections from the Office of the Attorney General indicating there is back child support owed. Frankly, We're not trying to pass judgment, we just assume if it's there then its true and we'd rather not lend to someone who doesn't even care enough about his/her children to pay for their care.

    For us, it's a financial decision. People who won't pay child support probably won't be great at paying a mortgage. State Rep. Harold Dutton is one of those people...

    “The reason I didn’t pay (child support) is because I wanted the court to tell me how much to pay — because I didn’t want her to have one nickel she wasn’t entitled to,” the state legislator said from his Houston law office on Tuesday.

    That's it, Harold. Make sure your children suffer because of how much you hate your ex-wife.

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    December 13, 2007

    Slots of Fun

    Priceless-DDthumb.jpg

    Apparently, Rep. Dukes skipped out on a meeting on Medicare/Medicaid and then, on her way back, had what may have been a 24 hour layover in Vegas. Or maybe it was 3 days. No one seems really certain, least of all her campaign manager. What is certain is that she likes the slots and I can't respect anyone who so frivolously throws money away on some blinking lights and noise. I hate slots and the zombies who sit there for hours on end, throwing money away.

    Click the link and go read the comments at BOR which are oddly reminiscent of the comments we got last week when we posted about Dawnna's challenger. Except now, we're being threatened with Dawnna pulling support for Democratic candidates in 2008. Since she did so much in 2006, I'm all about taking that seriously.

    /sarcasm


    Posted by mcblogger at 09:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Farrar in a primary?

    According to Charles Kuffner, Rep. Farrar will face a primary challenger in March. Perplexing as hell, but Houston politics have always struck me as a little odd. After all, you guys let President Bush I continue to live there.

    Click the link and read Kuffner's comments on why HE'LL be voting to re-elect Rep. Farrar.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    December 11, 2007

    A very special Special

    Yes, turning the Lege blue is important and voters in Tarrant County have the first opportunity of the new cycle. Early voting has begun in the special election between Dan Barrett and some Republican douche. So, if you're in Tarrant County (and I know some of you are... I CAN traceback your IP's, you know) get out early and vote for the man the Star Telegram endorsed.

    To paraphrase Barrett from a League of Women Voters forum, District 97 voters who think things are hunky-dory in Austin should vote for Shelton.

    Unfortunately, the last legislative session was far from hunky or dory. Although Barrett is a realist in admitting that he alone, as a freshman legislator, can't change the status quo, he just might make a difference as part of a growing body of lawmakers who represent a growing number of Texans who are dissatisfied with House leadership.

    The Star-Telegram recommends Dan Barrett in the Dec. 18 runoff for Texas House District 97.

    Oh, yeah... and the TPA endorsed him as well. The other good news is that military voters are swinging wildly to the Democrats, along with the shift in Latino vote. Two things that bode well for Democrats all over Texas.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    December 10, 2007

    Gold Stars - Rick and Melissa Noriega

    This year, in addition to recognizing its Texan of the Year (which will come this Friday), the Texas Progressive Alliance elected to recognize a number of other Texans who have contributed to Texas politics and the Progressive cause during 2007. This week, leading up to the TOY announcement, we bring you our Texas Progressive Alliance Gold Stars (one each day through Thursday).

    Rick & Melissa NoriegaRick and Melissa Noriega. These two Houston Democrats could easily be called Texas' new Political Power Couple. Melissa Noriega made news early this year with her run for the Houston City Council seat vacated by Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, who resigned the seat to assume the last six weeks of former Congressman Tom DeLay's term in 2006. Through a special election, a runoff, and a general election battle to win the seat for a full term, Melissa Noriega's progressive message endeared her to Houston voters, earned her statewide media recognition, and helped mark her as part of a new generation of progressive leaders with statewide potential. Rick Noriega's story is one that is also well known. A veteran of the "War on Terror," Rick Noriega started generating buzz early in 2007 as a number of progressive Netroots activists and bricks-and-mortar Democratic activists created a movement to "draft" Noriega into the Democratic Party's race for United States Senate. Rick Noriega answered the call to service and threw his hat into the ring to take on John Cornyn and the Texas Republican machine in the 2008 election in spite of the fact that he could have easily won reelection to his seat in the Texas Legislature or even run for another office where the fight would have been small to none. Instead, he had the courage to stand up for all Texans and say enough is enough. A true people-powered candidate, Rick Noriega, along with Melissa Noriega, have both made significant sacrifices to serve the people of Texas. For this and many other reasons, the Texas Progressive Alliance is pleased to recognize Rick and Melissa Noriega among its 2007 Gold Stars.

    Posted by mcblogger at 03:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    December 08, 2007

    TPA Awards

    Since 2005, the Texas Progressive Alliance has named a "Texan of the Year" to give recognition to one worthy Texan who has made a significant contribution to the world of politics or the progressive cause.

    For our Third Annual Texan of the Year Awards, the Texas Progressive Alliance elected to not only name a Texan of the Year--the Texan or Texans who contributed the most to the cause of the Progressive movement in 2007--but also recognize other Texans whose contributions were also important to the Progressive cause and worthy of recognition.

    The Texan of the Year will be announced next Friday, December 14. Between now and then, the Texas Progressive Alliance will announce its list of Texans whose contributions to the progressive cause it believed worthy of special recognition. This begins today, with the announcement of the Texas Progressive Alliance's Silver Stars. Starting Monday, four additional "Gold Stars" will be announced followed by the TOY on Friday.

    Without further ado, here are the 2007 Texas Progressive Alliance Silver Stars (in alphabetical order):

    bbTexas Ranger Brian Burzynski. It has been said that persistence is as much a virtue as patience. Inasmuch as that is so, it is also true that persistence pays off. In the case of Texas Ranger Brian Burzynski, persistence also saved thousands of Texas children from a certain Hell at the Texas Youth Commission. For nearly two years, starting in 2005, Burzynski investigated allegations of sexual misconduct in Texas' juvenile prison system. He was rebuffed by state authorities, local prosecutors, and even the United States Department of Justice. In spite of these rebuffs, Burzynski continued to push his case--investigating, making noise, not letting go, and never taking 'no' for an answer. The end result? It broke open one of the largest criminal justice scandals in the history of Texas and brought forward a flood of legislative reforms, and victims. For this and more, the Texas Progressive Alliance is pleased to confer upon Ranger Brian Burzynski a 2007 Texas Progressive Alliance Silver Star.

    hgHank Gilbert. When Hank Gilbert's race for agriculture commissioner ended last November, he kept on going. During his 2006 campaign, Gilbert promised Texans that--win or lose--he wouldcontinue to fight against toll roads, mandatory animal ID legislation, and international corporations that threatened the citizens of Texas. Gilbert organized a Texas Independence Day March on Austin. Working with farmers, ranchers, Democratic activists, and disillusioned landowners, brought nearly 1,000 Texans to Austin to testify against the Trans Texas Corridor at a session of the Texas Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security the day before the march. Thousands more Texans showed up the next day to continue the fight. Gilbert has been instrumental in forming a statewide umbrella organization of anti-toll groups to continue the fight against toll-enabling legislation. As a director for Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom, he continues to travel the state and nation speaking out against the takeover of taxpayer funded infrastructure by private interests. For this and more, the Texas Progressive Alliance proudly names Hank Gilbert recipient of a 2007 Texas Progressive Alliance Silver Star.

    crCongressman Ciro Rodriguez. In 2006, Ciro Rodriguez was the "come back kid" of Texas Politics, winning a seat in congress after a runoff about the time the Texan of the Year for 2006 was announced. This year, Rodriguez took office as part of the first Democratic congress in nearly a generation, and has served his San Antonio-based district honorably. His race is considered one of national Republicans' top targets, although Rodriguez's constituent services and his support from Democratic Leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will no doubt help him retain the district.

    Texas Bloggers Who Made A Difference. This year, for the first time, Texas Bloggers determined that some of their own were worthy of special recognition for their work during 2007: John Cobarruvias (Bay Area Houston Blog); Vince Leibowitz (Capitol Annex); Edmundo "Xicano Power" Roca (XicanoPwr); and Sharon Wilson (TxSharon of BlueDaze). A note on each blogger:

    John Cobarruvias has almost single handedly changed the way Texas legislators use and report their campaign/officeholder expenses. Because he has held their feet to the fire through his Spending Campaign Cash series, organizing a group of volunteers to file complaints against offending legislators and urging media to report on spending abuses, legislators have cleaned up their acts. The Texas Ethics Commission has issued written reminders to legislators about the very problems with reporting expenses that Cobarruvias uncovered.

    vlVince Leibowitz. As the 80th Session of the Texas Legislature ended in turmoil--with parliamentarians resigning, a walk-out, and two stooges of House Speaker Tom Craddick on the dais as officers of the Texas House, Leibowitz decided that the whole story of those final days wasn't being told and started digging. Through public information requests, he uncovered a sheaf of documents from House Speaker Tom Craddick's office that helped piece together exactly what happened in those final hours. No main-stream media outlet had dug into this, and Leibowitz's work broke new ground and proved that House Speaker Tom Craddick's actions were the premeditated acts of a Speaker on the edge.

    Edmundo Rocha. Blending lends heavy-handed social critiques, local and national politics, and a heaping dose of common sense in his blog, Edmundo Rocha tackles heavy topics like imigration, teenage pregnancy, racial and gender politics, and backs up everything with a sense of style and spirit. With a loyal and unwavering audience (his Texan of the Year nomination, in fact, was suggested in the comments of a blog by one of Edmundo's readers), Rocha has rapidly become one of the state's most prominent Latino bloggers. No issue is too tough, and none taboo for this blogger.
    swSharon Wilson. Most Texans don't know what the Texas Railroad Commission is or does. In 2007, one Texas blogger changed that: Sharon Wilson. Wilson's reporting on the injection well drilling in the Barnett Shale region and its impact on the water quality and the environment in Wise County and surrounding areas has been exceedingly important to bringing wider attention to the dangers this practice poses across the state. Wilson has nearly single-handedly stood up to large oil companies and made the companies and state agencies--including the Texas Railroad Commission--take notice. Relentless in her drive to educate the public and elected officials to the damage being done to the Texas environment, Wilson's investigative reporting and blogging is worthy of recognition.


    lsgTexas Legislative Study Group. The policy clearinhouse for Progressives, the Texas Legislative Study Group is full of unsung heroes. Policy analysts who help Legislators keep up with the more than 50 bills that come up a day in the Texas House, the Texas Legislative Study Group and its policy analysts could perhaps be considered the most important behind-the-scenes players in the legislative process when it comes to safeguarding progressive principles. Legislators carry their reports around on the House floor like bibles. Their arguments against the Appropriations Bill, some versions of Jessica Law, and the Castle Doctrine were masterful. Also important to note is that the brilliant minds behind the work of the LSG aren't aged policy veterans, but rather among the best Texas minds of more recent generations, "Generation X" in particular. The men and women who daily toil at the LSG are indeed the men and women who will shape Texas public policy for generations into the future.

    tbpTexBlog PAC. Started by just a handful of Texas progressive bloggers, TexBlog PAC has harnessed the energy of the online community. In a state with one of the largest netroots communities in America--and the most vibrant progressive blogosphere, TexBlog PAC is poised to build on victories bloggers helped happen in 2004 and 2006. Having already raised over $10,000 in its initial months, the PAC will play a key role for Democrats as we try to take back the House in 2008.


    dvoDavid Van Os. Following his defeat in the 2006 Attorney General's race, Van Os made good on his promise to "keep fighting 'em on ice." From helping groups like TURF in their fight against the private takeover of government infrastructure to helping workers who were intimidated when nooses started showing up in their workplace (securing the removal of both the noose and the supervisor), Van Os hasn't stopped fighting for working Texans. In addition, from musicians to probation officers to non-profit workers, Van Os has continued his life's work on behalf of the working men and women of Texas.


    mvState Representative Mike Villarreal. In 2003, many were ready to write Mike Villarreal's political obituary. Fast forward to 2007, and Villarreal has become one of the Progressive leaders in the Texas House of Representatives. Authoring legislation that would have made created contribution limits for political candidates and an independent redistricting commission, Villarreal took a lead with these progressive issues. In addition, Villarreal took a lead on GLBT rights by authoring HB 900, which would have provided protections from discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression for the GLBT community. This, coupled with the compromise he sought to proffer when Republicans tried to take over the House and suspend the constitutional provision concerning the consideration of legislation early in the session, make Villarreal worthy of recognition.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    December 06, 2007

    Dawnna draws a challenger... finally

    Color me thrilled to no end that Austin's own Dawnna Dukes has finally found a challenger to take her on in the primary next March.

    This summer a faction of Austin Democrats tried - and failed - to find Dukes an early opponent. But Brian Thompson, a lawyer who works at McGinnis, Lochridge & Kilgore and who serves on the Austin Human Rights Commission, said Friday he is being encouraged by Democratic activists to challenge Dukes.

    "We're tired of being represented by a Republican-funded politician who has pledged absolute loyalty to Republican Speaker Tom Craddick and puts her own political ambition and self-interest ahead of the best interests of the good people of East Austin," Thompson said. (AAS)

    There is already a lot of bullshit flying about how wonderful Dawnna has been for the gay and lesbian community, the east Austin community, the film community, etc. Yeah, it's crap from a bunch of people who simply haven't thought things through. For one thing, while she often ends up voting on an issue the right way, you can't ever forget that she's part of the group that put the leadership team in place. The same leadership team that session after session, continues to bring to the floor and pass legislation that will negatively impact east Austin. It's like someone being the key vote to send a bad bill from committee to the floor, then voting against it. You could have stopped it but you didn't. That's Dawnna. As for her helping out the film community... well, so there's one community in east Austin she hasn't lubed up to fuck.

    Don't worry, it'll happen.

    Think I'm harsh? Hell, it's only because I remember that Dawnna went on vacation to France when school finance was up during the 2005 Special. That and I'm tired of making goddamn excuses for her poor decisions and bullshit. Not to mention her spending a Sunday beating up on Will Wynn and others for their, what was it Dawnna? Their poor response and lack of help for the people who came to Austin from NOLA during Katrina? Yeah, that was it. Funny, I don't remember seeing you down there until you were shamed into it. You were too busy bitching and moaning about the people who were working tooth and nail to help folks who'd just lost their homes and endured the pure hell of post-Katrina NOLA. They deserved better than political grandstanding. They deserved your help.

    Fuck you, Dawnna. Fuck you and your hypocrisy, your poor work ethic and your desire to fuck over your constituents, from whom you still expect support. You could have made a difference in funding for CHIP during the past session but you didn't. Many of your constituents know that. That's why they're pissed as hell.

    For those of you offended by a white guy running against an black woman, get over it. If the color of someone's skin is going to determine your support then you need to rethink the whole 'voting for quality' thing because there are bad people in every racial group. Further, I'd ask why the hell you haven't stepped up to run. This district is very racially diverse and any way you slice it, some of you are going to be represented by someone with a different amount of melanin in their skin. If that bothers you, then run. You've got until just after New Years to make up your mind.

    Oh, and for her campaign manager... a word of advice. This was dumb.

    "That whole line of Dawnna voting for Craddick has no traction. It hasn't come up. This is Austin, probably the most politically aware city in the state, and they have no idea who he is."

    The guy is one of the most hated men in the state. Yeah, we know who he is. So do my friends who live in the district. Instead of trying to spin one of the most politically inept votes in the history of Texas politics, why not focus on a real issue... namely the problems with Dawnna's ethics report.

    One last thing... more than likely, there will be a new Speaker on the dais next session. Whoever it is, Democrat or Republican, they probably won't have much use for one of the Democrats who kept CradDICK in power. If Dawnna stays in office then she'll be a real liability to a community that is finally coming into it's own and seeing some long overdue prosperity.

    Posted by mcblogger at 07:00 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    December 05, 2007

    Go help Maldonado!

    With Krusee out, the Republicans are lining up candidates in HD 52. Meanwhile, there is a strong Democrat in the race and tonight she's kicking off her campaign...

    Please Join

    Rep. Valinda Bolton, Rep. Dawnna Dukes, Rep. Donna Howard
    Rep. Elliott Naishtat, Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, Rep. Mark Strama
    Senator Kirk Watson, Hon. Gonzalo & Emma Barrientos
    Hon. David Escamilla, Hon. Margaret Gomez, Hon. John Sharp


    in supporting


    Diana Maldonado


    for State Representative District 52
    Austin, Georgetown, Hutto, Round Rock, Taylor

    Wednesday, December 5, 5 - 8 PM

    Serrano’s at Symphony Square
    1111 Red River Street, Austin
    hors d’oeuvres & refreshments

    Suggested Donation: $25, $50 or $100 (whatever you can afford!)
    Sponsorships
    $1,000, $500, $250, $125

    For information: 637-7268

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Seriously, you've nothing better to do, CradDICK?

    I've spent some time over the last few days reading about CradDICK's interim charges and among them is a voter ID bill. Goddamn if you Republicans aren't going to waste more of my tax dollars on this issue.

    All of you Republicans voters out there need to be aware of what that fucked-in-the-head old man is wasting your time on. There isn't a damn problem with voter fraud anywhere in Texas, other than in the mind of that nutjob Tax Assessor Collector in Harris County (anyone remember douchie's name?).

    Of course, the interim charges aren't all bad... CradDICK's other hot issue, which he stole from Hank Gilbert, is eminent domain and the TTC. This is the same CradDICK that in 2003 helped push through the legislation that enabled the TTC. It's always good to see he's now coming around to thinking like a Democrat on this but it's a little late in the game. The fact that he worked so hard to push this in 2003, 2005 and then to stand in the way of fixing it in 2007 make his recent conversion more than little suspect. I would call it pandering, but that's kind of insulting to panderers the world over. This is just him trying to salvage his Speakership and his moribund party.

    Speaking of the Republican Party of Texas, what are they concerned about? Making that idiot Railroad Commissioner Mike Williams look good and doing a puff piece on Debbie Riddle. They're trying to rehab Williams by making sure he says nothing about a subject he knows less than nothing about, namely the Railroad Commission on which he sits. In Debbie's case, they are trying to make her sound competent even though everyone knows that Jessica's Law, which the RPT credits to her, was really the work of Hartnett and Gattis who had to jump in and fix the bill that Debbie thoroughly screwed up.

    Seriously, y'all, the Lege is considered by many to be a joke because of people like CradDICK and Debbie Riddle. Now we know the Mongos of Midland aren't going to vote against him. Which means that people of Texas have to. The next step is for the House, during the next session, to shun him. It's up to the members of the Lege to restore the integrity of the body.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    November 30, 2007

    Cheap bastards

    A new group, made up of a bunch of total assholes who claim to speak for Texas businesses, has started up a campaign to overturn the new business tax which replaced the useless franchise tax. The same business tax that the state hasn't even started to collect.

    Radio ads in San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and Houston draw on tidal waves and scary movies to make a point about something they paint as just as frightening: Texas' new business tax.

    "It's the difference between a tiny drop and a tidal wave. Because of the new Texas Margins Tax, small-business owners may see a slight drop in property taxes, but their business tax will increase up to 1,000 percent," says the script for one of the ads by the National Federation of Independent Business.

    Well, holy fucking shit! Consider this... most companies get abatements and don't own property. They lease it. Most of those don't even pay franchise tax. Which means they functionally pay DICKALL to help support the state. Oh, they'll use the free roads and hire people educated in our schools and demand the police and fire dept. protect them. But pay for those services? Fuck no. That's for us regular schmucks.

    Architects of the new tax, which won't be collected until May, say they need to see how it works before making more changes. Lawmakers aren't due back in regular session until January 2009, so Gov. Rick Perry — a champion of the tax package — would have to call a special session for them to consider changing the law before then.

    The new business tax, which replaced the franchise tax, is based on gross receipts — either 1 percent or half a percent, depending on the type of business — with deductions for cost of goods sold or employee benefits.

    Backers say the new tax is fairer, bringing businesses into the system that weren't paying. They say companies that will owe higher business taxes must also look at whether that's offset by lower local school tax rates. They cite adjustments made this year meant to benefit smaller businesses.

    "The goal ... is to keep Texas business-friendly," said Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. "We certainly in the Legislature strove to protect small business."

    Keffer bristles at the ads, contending that NFIB/Texas "did not come and really try to work with us on any of this. Pretty much they were against the whole process."

    You fucking people have no political power and all you're doing is whining about paying ANY taxes. Fuck y'all. Be happy no one's asking you to pay what you SHOULD be paying. Just wait until citizens start boycotting ANY business that participates in this retarded campaign.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 27, 2007

    How do you file a complaint against the ethics commission?

    That dipshit John Davis, who was all the time using campaign contributions for personal expenses, was fined by the ethics commission. The fine amounts to a slap on the wrist.

    State Representative John Davis (HD 129) was slapped on the wrist again for spending approximately $13,000 of his donors money for personal use. In a sworn complaint posted on the Texas Ethics Commission website, Davis was fined only $500.

    After KHOU highlighted $100,000 in expenditures paid simply to American Express, and his reimbursement to himself from his campaign funds, he had to itemize every purchase exposing his gasoline purchases, eating habits, and his use of his donors money for personal use.

    Mad props to Bay Area Houston

    Posted by mcblogger at 03:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Changes at the TTC and in WillCo

    I've long thought that anyone who'd commit the State of Texas by signing one of those awful toll privatization agreements, selling out our infrastructure, was either stupid or criminal. And that, plus Mike Krusee's poor chances at re-election, are driving his decision to retire while fueling speculation about a possible move to a State transportation post once the shit hits the fan for one or more members of the TTC. At least, that's the rumor floating around... no one's making specific accusations, only repeating 'what they've been told' about wrongdoing involving certain interested parties who are all about tolling our roads. Don't read too much into it as it may just be the typical Austin bullshit that floats into Lake Lady Bird every now and then.

    Of course, it may not.

    It's no secret these toll roads deals aren't a good deal for the citizens of Texas. The people of Texas have realized it, which is why the word TOLL was not used once to sell those bonds to the voters of Texas at beginning of November. What people didn't know, because the DMN, Star T and Houston Chronicle didn't tell them, is that those bonds can be paid back in a number of ways. One of those ways is with tolls on public, taxpayer funded roads.

    The cool thing about all this is that the R's will try to replace Krusee with Round Rock Mayor Nyle Maxwell, who is about as popular in the district as a child molester at one of John Walsh's parties. So who does that leave? Well, frankly, no one. Which makes things really nice for a certain Democrat named Maldonado who is running to represent the people of southern WillCo.

    Whatever happens, two things are sure... tolling as the SOLE way of financing infrastructure in Texas is dead as Britney's career and Mikey won't be in the House. We at McBlogger would like to wish him only the best. As long as his next job has nothing to do with public service or lobbying.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 25, 2007

    Republicans are dropping themselves in the grease?

    Larson expressed a concern that the Republican Party in Texas will become known as 'the tolling party,' and that image will damage the party's ability to win future elections. He says the vast majority of Texans disapprove of the aggressive toll road building policy promoted by Governor Perry and Texas Department of Transportation Chairman Ric Williamson.

    Too late, Commissioner. Y'all are already the Tolling Party of Texas.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 23, 2007

    There aren't enough doctors? Whatdya mean?

    Kuff, channeling the Observer, has more on the continued shortage of doctors in rural areas. Supposedly, that was to be cured by tort reform. The story was that rural doctors were being sued out of existence by the evil trial lawyers. As the author of the article astutely notes, that wasn't exactly true... and tort reform hasn't done a thing to bring doctors to under served rural communities.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 30, 2007

    CradDICK whines about the trials

    The big, bad, mean 'ol trial lawyers are out to get CradDICK. According to CradDICK, who has decided to implement a strategy of calling himself a martyr. And everyone is laughing at the goofy old man whose paranoid ravings are about as crazy as Kucinich's visits with aliens.

    Tom, that breath you feel on the back of your neck isn't from some trial lawyer trying to stop corporate abuse. It's the breath of Texas voters, the vast majority of whom (regardless of party) ARE out to make sure you NEVER sit on the dais again.

    Posted by mcblogger at 07:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 29, 2007

    Checking up on the Iscariot Caucus

    Phillip at BOR has a post up about what's happening with the Iscariot Caucus. Apparently, only 5 five remain solidly behind CradDICK, many have primary opponents and a few have come back from the dark side.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 12, 2007

    Friedmanite utility dereg fails. Officially.

    Again, we're talking about utility deregulation. This time, from an analysis in the late to the party Chron (via Kuff)

    [T]he very structure of Texas' deregulated market exposes customers to the full impact of rising natural gas prices more than in other states, or even in parts of Texas still served by regulated electric companies, municipally owned utilities or electric cooperatives.

    The 25 percent of Texans living in those regulated markets generally pay less than rates available in markets that have been opened to competition.

    Houston residential consumers use an average of 1,130 kilowatt hours a month. Bills for that much power would range from $125.43 to $163.85 based on rates available in Houston at the end of September for a one-year, fixed-rate plan. The average rate available in Houston would produce a monthly bill of $142.95.

    The same amount of electricity would cost $97.41 in San Antonio and $105.32 in Austin, both served by municipally owned utilities.

    Deregulation supporters say its success should not be judged just on price, and point to the variety of electricity service options available to customers. But they have been slow to take advantage of the choices.

    The variety of service options? Like what? 12/12 plan that keeps my power on only for 12 hours a day and pulls me off the grid for the 12 that I'm at work/stuck in traffic? What difference does it make if the kWh is still more expensive than the pinko's in Austin are paying?

    Pretty sad when the widely derided most liberal city in Texas has better and cheaper utility service than the capitalist powerhouses of Dallas and Houston. But at least Dallas and Houston people have their choice from a 'variety of service options'.

    Variety of service options... You can stick that up a variety of assholes.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 05, 2007

    It's about time...

    Rep. Dunnam has a great post up over at BOR regarding the friendliness in the Lege between members of different parties and the consideration that Democrats have had for their Republican colleagues. It appears that's finally breaking down...

    Recently, Rep. Allen Vaught politely declined to meet with a potential opponent of Dan Branch. Allen explained that, in the greater interest of Dallas County, he did not think he should be personally involved in county House races. This is Allen's choice, and certainly understandable.

    Imagine Allen's surprise when he received a copy of the invitation to former Rep. Bill Keffer's fundraiser this month. Of course, you can guess correctly that Linda Harper-Brown's name is on it; heck, she did the same against Republican incumbents during the 2006 primaries. But you might be surprised by some of the other host names: Joe Driver, Ken Paxton, Jim Jackson, and Jodie Laubenberg. Oh, and Rep. Dan Branch. But wait, you say, Joe Driver isn't like Harper-Brown? And Paxton has always treated other members with respect, hasn't he? And this is how Mr. Branch says thank you to Allen Vaught?

    This is being duplicated across the state. These incidents are neither isolated nor uncalculated. We must recognize the great effort our Republican colleagues are making, as incumbent elected officials, to actively campaign against Democratic House members. We must understand that when our Republican colleagues go after one of us, they are going after all of us. You might be in a safe district and say to yourself, "Well, they are not coming after me," but the truth is that when they attack one of us, they attack all of us. Their goal is to weaken our collective voice by defeating us one by one.

    And who is leading the attack against Democratic members of the Lege? None other than that old crone Arlene Wohlgemuth (the dumbass who tried to beat Chet Edwards in 2004), Linda Harper-Brown (who is interrupting her busy Crisco and bacon sandwich eating schedule) and our old friend CradDICK the Best Mud Salesman in Midland.

    The reality is that the Democrat's goodwill has never been reciprocated. Further, the idea that 'you don't campaign against other members' is just patently absurd and Vaught's an idiot for thinking it. Those seats belong to the people of the State of Texas, not to some member. Regardless, the Democrats are going to have to realize, especially the new guys, that Texas politics ain't pretty and it ain't nice. If you need friends while in the Lege, may I suggest a nice bartender?

    This is a knife fight and my daddy always told me the one who wins a knife fight is the guy who brings the gun. We, the thousands of activists around the state, are your gun. Don't be in the way and quit trying to protect, via action or inaction, your 'friends'.

    And someone needs to be helping the guy running against Branch. Y'all up in Dallas Co... there is no goddamn reason why a Republican should be representing the gayborhood. HP and UP aren't that damn red. No more excuses... we got rid of Stick and Baxter. Y'all get on the stick and retire that dipshit Branch.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 04, 2007

    Wanna see something funny?

    How does Sly Turner : Speaker Of The House, hit you?

    I know, it took me a while to come up for air as well. Who'd have thought that a man with no real power outside his own district and who can count less than 20 people in The Lege as supporters would be a good speculative speaker?

    Actually, come to think of it, there may not be 20 people in The Lege next session that like Turner. We already know some of them are going the way of the dodo.

    Posted by mcblogger at 04:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    September 28, 2007

    Tolls : Leadership and money... two things lacking

    The Republicans on the Texas Transportation Commission (the folks who run TXDoT) are running around scaring the hell out of everyone by

    1) Claiming that TXDoT is broke
    2) Pushing to remove the moratorium on privatization which will allow them to sell our roads

    You can read the entire piece at the DMN or at the SAEN. It's basically the same article. Though the DMN does decide to use TXDoT's now defunct $86 Bn transportation shortfall estimate. I guess no one told the reporter about the TTI report from last fall. It's the one Ric Williamson is terrified of because it neatly points out his lies.

    Let's address point one, TXDoT is broke. Actually., at the moment TXDoT is funded adequately. It could, of course, do more with more money but at this moment in time things are still getting done. The reality is that as one moves forward in time, less and less of TXDoT's budget is going to go to actually building roads. We knew that already. Why the reporters for the DMN and the SAEN chose to report this as if it were a NEW story is beyond me.

    What to do about this issue? How do we keep, or even expand, TXDoT's available funding? Well, there are a couple of ways... taxes and taxes. One is the indexed gas tax you already know and love. The other is privatizing our roads, selling them off to the highest bidder, and allowing them to toll them, another form of taxation. Traditionally, toll roads have been few and far between. However, in Ric Williamson's best case scenario, the entire state would be covered with them, not to mention existing freeways that would be converted to tolling. That means it's going to be broad based and will likely catch everyone. That means it's a tax, pure and simple. Only in this case, it's a tax paid to Ric Williamson's buddies, the private toll road companies like Cintra.

    Think I'm lying? Central Texas is the blueprint for what TXDoT and the Republicans want to do statewide. Oh, there will be a free road you can take, but it won't be like 610 in Houston or Central in Dallas. It'll be a frontage road. With lights set to cause the greatest amount of impeded traffic flow and frustration. Seriously, folks are already doing reports on them.

    The other alternative, indexing the gas tax, takes care of our maintenance woes as well as building new projects, without the adding cost of toll infrastructure. It also allows us to not worry about a private toll road operator's profits over the next 75 years. Ric Williamson, for his part, is worried about how regressive the gas tax is which is funny because it's THE ONLY TIME I'VE HEARD A REPUBLICAN WORRIED ABOUT THE REGRESSIVENESS OF A TAX. That aside, yes the gas tax is regressive. So is the sales tax. So are tolls. Whether you like it or not, without a real freeway alternative, a toll road will be the only limited access roadway that can be used by rich and poor alike. It should be obvious that since what Williamson has envisioned will cover the entire state and effect everyone, it too is a regressive tax on people.

    Given that, would you rather them pay less that one cent per mile or 12 cents per mile? Seriously, Ric, I'd LOVE to hear your answer to that.

    Posted by mcblogger at 04:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    September 14, 2007

    Little Patty Rose shopping for statewide

    On September 9th, my birthday, the little fucker had the temerity to host a fundraiser. Oh, he didn't take people away from my event since no one who would come to my party likes Patty Rose. They'd rather eat their money than give it to the most unreliable state representative in the Lege. Seriously, he makes Kino Flores look positively trustworthy.

    Apparently, his fundraiser didn't go so well...

    Patrick Rose bought 1,500 barbecue dinners for his fundraiser at the Salt Lick this weekend and told the local newspaper that he had fallen one-third short of that goal when only 1,000 supporters attended.

    It turns out that only 312 dinners were actually served.

    Either Rose’s support base is majority Hays County Herbivore or the Salt Lick cuisine has gone way down hill since the last time we were there.

    As if that wasn't enough, he didn't print the invites at a union shop which is the equivalent, to many Democratic voters, of setting their hair on fire. The good news in all this? There's at least one Democrat lining up to beat him. There will also be a Republican in the race, apparently. Which is funny since the Republicans have no chance of winning.

    Seriously, those people in Hays may not care much for Patty but they sure as hell don't want a Republican.

    Then this morning, someone over at BOR posted about a possible White/Rose 'dream team' in 2010. Someone in Houston needs to tell White that he's hitching his wagon to the wrong horse. Guilt by association is a motherfucking bitch.

    Sure, redemption is possible, but it's going to have to be something incredible. Like parting the Gulf or raining tempura shrimp on Austin.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    August 03, 2007

    CradDICK, the biggest DICK in Austin

    Let's say you take over the job of someone who ostensibly like and respect. Let's say the company you work for wishes to honor your predecessor. Let's say you have control over that and decide to SHIT ALL OVER THE EVENT.

    What would that make you? To me, that would make you a giant dick. And that's exactly what (soon to be ex-)Speaker CradDICK is for 86ing former Speaker Laney's bust revealing ceremony. Via Vince at Capitol Annex...

    We all know that Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick (R-Midland) is less than ethical. Now, it seems he can’t even be polite.

    Sources tell Capitol Annex that House Speaker Tom Craddick has refused to allow any ceremony for the unveiling of the bust of former House Speaker Pete Laney in the annex of the Texas Capitol.

    Former Texas House Speakers including Gib Lewis and Billy Clayton have been honored by having their likenesses sculpted as bronze busts and placed in the capitol annex near the Capitol Cafeteria.

    And, each of the past several speakers was invited to small unveiling ceremonies when their busts were dedicated.

    Craddick has, however, refused to allow any honor for his predecessor.

    According to Capitol Annex’s sources, Rep. Toby Goolsby (R-Dallas) approached Speaker Craddick about a ceremony for Laney. Craddick reportedly replied with only the word, “no.” Goolsby reportedly persisted and Craddick consented that the bust could be placed by the others but forbid any ceremony and allegedly forbid anyone who knew about the placement of the bust from letting anyone know about its arrival or inciting anything to be done to mark the occasion.

    This is one of Craddick’s worst actions. It’s pure partisanship at its worst.

    Regardless of party or personal differences, a former speaker of the Texas House should be given his due just like other speakers were. There is a precedent and it should be followed. Craddick, will no doubt expect the same when his bust is dedicated in a couple of years—after he is voted out of the Speaker’s chair in 2009

    What IS it with the Republicans and their desire to shit all over the fine men and women who've served before them? I can't wait until CradDICK is a former Speaker. When his bust is revealed, I'm bringing a bag of dogshit to smear all over it.

    What? You weren't thinking of doing the same thing?

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    July 06, 2007

    Tolls : Kirk Watson is a really decent guy

    You know, it's rare that a Senator who disagrees with so many of his colleagues will run interference for them, but that's exactly what Kirk is doing. This last session, there was a tremendous amount of momentum to rejuvenate transportation funding in this state and really address our problems. All that enthusiasm turned to shit by the end of the session because of two issues:

    1) Republicans are pussies when it comes to doing the right thing and raising the damn gas tax. They'd rather us all have to deal with unreasonably high corporate toll taxes.
    2) Republicans from DFW Metro are a bunch of fat candy asses (yeah, you Fatass McFaterson) when it comes to dealing with the RMA's who just happen to INTIMIDATE THEM.

    Still, Watson doesn't drop them in the grease. He takes time out of his busy summer schedule to pen an op/ed piece in the Schlockman basically saying we need to stop fighting over the 'funding tools' out our disposal and start making decisions. I couldn't agree more.

    If the environment was ever ripe for the creation of tools other than toll roads, it was during the past six months. It didn't happen. If you want less traffic and dislike toll roads, you should be disappointed.

    Instead, the state budget effectively decreased funding for the Department of Transportation, since it didn't provide enough money to keep up with double-digit inflation in the cost of road building. There was talk about raising the gas tax, or at least indexing it to inflation, and reducing the need for toll roads. But tax bills must start in the state House of Representatives, and a potential increase never made it to the floor.

    Note that he doesn't single out Krusee, CradDICK or that simpleton Chisum, all of whom played a roll in keeping that bill off the floor. And all of whom happen to be Republican. For those Republicans out there always pissed off about partisanship on the part of the Democrats, here's one Democrat who's not pointing fingers and assigning blame, no matter how richly that blame may be deserved.

    Kirk is, of course, right and honestly a bit of a MOTO for writing shit like this...

    It costs money to increase road capacity and enhance mobility. There are no free roads. And it will take generations to pay for our current needs — not to mention our future ones — using only the financing tools we've been given. That means we'll spend more and more of our lives sitting in traffic, and our children will have to fix the problems we'll leave them.

    I fear for our economy, our air quality and our quality of life if Central Texas becomes a gridlocked mess where every highway is like Interstate 35, every surface street is like Lamar Boulevard at rush hour, and every neighborhood needs speed bumps because so many drivers are desperate for a short cut.

    We have too much traffic. More people are coming. And they'll be driving cars.

    But more roads and road capacity are not coming for all of those people and cars — not without more money. And the only possibilities are gas taxes (which the Legislature has rejected), property taxes (which are unfair and already too high), toll roads and innovative growth strategies that give people options besides their cars.

    We all have a lot of work to do on this issue. We can't just pretend we can get something for nothing. Nor can we defer to an almost instinctive distaste for things like toll roads or land-use planning.

    It's time for us to honestly assess our needs and come together around tools that will meet them.

    Yes we need infrastructure. If you want to be brutally honest, we should have had this discussion in 1995. However, Laney and Bullock didn't want it and then Governor Bush was too hopped up on the exotic chemicals coming from Karl Rove's mouth to even think straight. However, we don't need to jump into a 40 year contract. We can more than afford to wait another year or two. Here are some suggestions for either the next session or, if by some miracle, a transportation special.

    1) Let the voters decide... indexed gas tax to meet transportation goals or STATE controlled and operated toll roads.
    2) Restructure TXDoT and make all transportation related offices elected, not appointed, including the metro and county levels.

    The first idea will put the decision in the hands of voters, not the Lege which is too full of stupid Republicans to ever acknowledge that taxes aren't a waste of money. It also eliminates the corporate middleman (that's called disintermediation for all you non-B school folks) who will exist not to protect taxpayers from liability, but instead to increase their liability while demanding hefty profits for a service that should be provided at cost.

    The second will make TXDoT more responsive to the people of this state. Plus, it creates a much more public platform from which a commissioner can call out the bad actions of the Lege. Or the Governor.

    The bottom line question was, is and should always be What is best for the people of Texas? The reality is that it's a broad based fuels tax that will allow the state to borrow at much cheaper rates than those available to private companies. This will allow TXDoT to dramatically expand the building of roads around the state, providing jobs and a massive amount of economic growth that will create the kind of broad-based prosperity Texans deserve. It'll also take care of pollution and traffic delays, which both Watson and I agree would be a good thing (I don't like sitting in traffic either, Kirk).

    The reality that Senator Watson is trying to make clear is that given the current republican-saturated nature of the Lege, none of this is likely to happen. We need to get him some help and we need to make sure that we don't jump from one bad situation to another.

    (h/t to EOW which has a slightly different take)

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:28 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    June 22, 2007

    He was a lousy tipper

    Oh, come on, Whitmire!

    Her manager later told her that "we never refuse the senators," according to a conversation that was recorded, the lawsuit says.

    Whitmire could not be reached for comment Wednesday because he was traveling, said Lara Wendler, Whitmire's legislative director.

    Wendler, who said she was present that night at the bar, said Lear's allegations against the senator were "complete fabrication."

    The owner of the bar could not be reached for comment Wednesday by telephone or on a visit to the Cloak Room.

    A bartender refused to comment. Lear and her lawyer also could not be reached for comment.

    According to the lawsuit, Whitmire walked into the bar March 8 and asked for a "J&B and water" when Lear was working alone. She served him the drink, but the senator had a "glazed look in his eyes" and was "acting intoxicated," the lawsuit says.

    When Whitmire asked for another scotch, Lear gave him a glass of water, telling him she could not legally serve him another drink because he was intoxicated, according to the lawsuit.

    Whitmire said he would call the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and have Lear fired for refusing to serve him, the lawsuit says.

    Whitmire also got out of his chair and approached Lear, saying he "would have her job," according to the lawsuit.

    Lear told the senator that she would call the police if he continued acting that way, the lawsuit says.

    "He responded that the police would not come because all he would have to do was to make a phone call," according to the lawsuit.

    Whitmire made more threats and then left, the lawsuit says.

    The place is a shithole, but I kinda like it mostly because I get to smoke inside (sorry, Eileen). Honestly, the only time I ever go there is when I'm near the Capitol (rare), meeting people who work at the Capitol (very rare) and occasionally when I'm meeting people downtown who are too lazy to make it to LaLa's (rarer still) mostly because it's a nasty, dank little place and I'm tempted to venture into Charlie's afterward, which is always a mistake. Still, that doesn't excuse treating the staff badly. DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO HIRE SOMEONE WHO'LL PUT UP WITH YOUR ASS, WHITMIRE?!?!?!?!!?

    And don't ever think YOU can keep the city cops at bay. The last one who thought that was Nixon. Where's he now, John?

    Note to members of the Legislature that aren't representing Austin Metro... don't fuck up. We barely tolerate y'all as things stand now.

    Especially the Republicans.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    June 08, 2007

    Pena's the one

    There was a rumor that Aaron Pena was going to retire from the House which of course provoked tears of sadness from the other members of the Iscariot Caucus as well as Speaker CradDICK himself. The good news is, we'll have Aaron Pena to kick around as it's clear he's running for re-election.

    The idea of a primary opponent for him is still be kicked around by a number of his constituents who are still pissed about his actions this session. Personally, I think it's a load of crap and that they won't be able to gather the support they'll need to unseat him. Still, it would be good to see someone take him out.

    Yes, Representative, we're still pissed about that one vote. It turned out to matter much more than even we thought it would.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    June 06, 2007

    Anouncing the McBlogger Marriage Institute

    It's been a while since Chisum passed his little marriage bill and frankly we're excited as hell because The Mayor and I are opening up the McBlogger Marriage Institute.

    Yeah, neither of us have been married (it's illegal for me and The Mayor likes to 'own' not 'rent'). However, we'll have staff who will teach the classes (that will free you from the onerous $60 marriage license fee) who have been married/divorced/restraining ordered or some combo thereof and know all about the State requirements. Plus! We'll charge only $40 for the class, quite the bargain versus that far-too-high $60 fee the state requires. Not only will you get a FABULOUS education, you'll also save $20 on the cost of gettin' hitched.

    Hell, we'll even throw in a free beer*! Email us now at mcblogger@mcblogger.com and put in the subject line MARRIAGE SCAM.

    For all the divorce attorneys out there... contact either The Mayor or myself and we'll get you an all access pass for a small fee. Might as well get your name out there early!

    *Domestic draft only. Oh, hell... we might as well tell you. It's Natty Light.


    Posted by mcblogger at 11:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    June 04, 2007

    How did comsumers fare in the 80th Lege?

    Pretty damn badly according to Coby over at Bay Area Houston who has done an amazing job of keeping track of just what Republicans have enabled insurers to do to Texas homeowners.

    Insurance. No bills were passed to address the failure of insurance deregulation. Rates should continue to rise especially during the hurricane season. Currently Texas has the highest rates in the nation.

    Get ready for your renewal and the (more than likely) premium increase.

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 31, 2007

    Thank you, Rep. Burnam

    With all the crap circling Saddam CradDICK and the Fun with Tolling tragedy, we haven't had much of a chance to thank Rep. Burnam of Fort Worth for doing his best to kill 39%'s horrendous political policing bill which was masquerading as a homeland security bill. In the end, Carona of Dallas (in the Senate), with the help of Corte and Escobar (in the House) managed to get an even worse, more abusive bill passed.

    Let me make this clear... no one is doubting that we need to enhance homeland security. However, the way you are going about it is traitorous. You've betrayed the people of Texas if you voted for this bill... you've helped concentrate political power in the Office of the Governor. Where it certainly shouldn't be.

    Thank you again, Rep. Burnam, for standing up for civil liberties and the Constitution. You, Sir, are a true Texan.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 30, 2007

    BREAKING: SLY TURNER FILES FOR SPEAKER

    No joke, we're getting this from a reliable source.

    Go ahead, laugh. We certainly are.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:06 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Tolls : Perry on SB 792

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    That’s what I’ve always cared about. Frankly, I don’t care who builds roads. I want them to get built timely, I want them to get build effectively, I want them to be built as cheaply for the taxpayer’s and the users of the state of Texas as they can be. And that is what is happening in our state.

    Coulda fooled us.Seriously, 39%, if you want to go around lying you might want to do it about something no one knows a thing about. We call your bluff, asshat.

    From the Chron blog (via EOW). Picture credit to one of Pink Lady's readers who ROCKS!

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 29, 2007

    Thanks for coming. Don't the door hit your ass on the way out

    Tonight, the Lege adjourned sine die. And we couldn't be happier. The faster we can get the likes of Leo Berman, Linda Harper-Brown, Frank Corte and bitch of the universe Jodie Laubenberg out of Austin, the better.

    Y'all have a nice drive home. Those of us in Austin are happy to see you go. Go back home and explain yourselves to your pissed off constituents. Explain to them how you sold their roads. Explain to them how you let the insurance companies and electric utilities take advantage of them. Help them to understand how good it is that they don't have health care and that school funding isn't all that important. Trust us, you'll want to get started soon because there are so many groups gunning for y'all it ain't even funny.

    No, not us. We may not like you but we hardly have the power to talk directly to your voters. Think of us just as the messenger on this one. Have a fun summer and try, as hard as you can, not to think of how close Krusee was last cycle. Seriously, you're going to want to rest up because the Republican primaries are going to be brutal. Should you survive those, you're going to have a reinvigorated Democratic Party candidate in front of you. And you'll like that even less.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 28, 2007

    Of all the stupid shit...

    WOW. We've been a little out of it thanks to the way too awesome bartender at the Cloak Room. And Mother Egans. And my house. However, in our absence the stupid continues unabated down at the Lege, this time with the Iscariot Caucus taking a bow for all the hard work they didn't do and, of course, heaping praise on their patron, Saddam CradDICK who has spent the entire weekend acting a dick. Sorry, that's not exactly true... occasionally Sylvester got to act like a dick, too. Good job, Sly! Way to do the folks back in Houston proud.

    That's today. The events of last night are still a little surreal. Burka has his inane take on things. So does Glenn Smith at BOR. My personal take? It's about fucking time. All anyone is asking for is to find out the will of the House. CradDICK knows he no longer has the support. Which is why we've been playing this silly games. Come on, Burka... even a blind man could see it. There was no choice but to break quorum. In fact, it should have happened Friday as soon as Terry Keel showed up.

    Also last night, Mike Krusee in a point of personal privilege, made a decent speech condemning CradDICK. He invoked Reagan. Why is that every Republican who gets their tit in a ringer feels the need to bring up Reagan? Still, Mike, we have to ask... why the change of heart? What's next? Opening an override of the veto on 1892?

    Speaking of... yeah, that wasn't done and 792 is on it's way to the Governor. We know most of y'all are smart folks. We know you have access to the same information we've seen, that tolls are by far the most expensive way to finance roads. We also know that there are loopholes within loopholes in 792 because you trusted 39% and Dick Williamson. That was, for some of you, a political miscalculation of unprecedented proportions.

    Keep talking, Nichols, about how this is a great deal. People know you're lying and it infuriates them. When the voices get loud, you'll start making excuses about how you trusted 39% and Williamson and that they are the ones to blame. Voters will blame them, too, but they aren't giving you a walk. Too many people used those excuses in 2006 to cover up for their original vote on 3588.

    Money for an anti-toll campaign is already being arranged. Multiple organizations are, for the first time, working together on this. You should all be nervous. Except Leibowitz and a handful of others.

    You made a serious miscalculation. You thought that the gas tax increase was unsalable to voters and that they would never learn enough about the toll plans to really get them pissed. You're wrong on both counts. Texans, over the next year, are about to learn just how far down the river you guys sold them. And they are going to be even more upset than they were last year.

    Not to mention some of you Republicans will be facing off against Leininger and CradDICK. Needless to say, you made enemies at a time when that was the last thing you needed to do. Amateur hour, boys and girls. VERY amateur. Oh, and for those of you thinking the Stalls can provide cover to you, they haven't been asked to the party.

    Who needs a sellout especially one who makes deals with untrustworthy people?

    Posted by mcblogger at 04:19 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    House breaks

    House just broke the quorum! HAHAHAHA

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    House breaks

    House just broke the quorum! HAHAHAHA

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 27, 2007

    Live from the Lege

    Just got to the Capitol with The Mayor, Sister Ruth and Captain Kroc. Right now, Coleman is grilling Chisum about CHIP. Now the budget has just passed. Exciting stuff... If you happen to be drunk.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Live from the Lege

    Just got to the Capitol with The Mayor, Sister Ruth and Captain Kroc. Right now, Coleman is grilling Chisum about CHIP. Now the budget has just passed. Exciting stuff... If you happen to be drunk.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    May 26, 2007

    792 going to the floor today?

    We've heard that SB 792 is going to the floor of the House today. Seriously, we've talked enough about this bullshit bill. At this point the damn thing should be voted down 2-148. Come on, y'all... kills this POS and override the veto on 1892. It's time to call 39%'s bluff and really put the fear of God in Ric Williamson.

    Yeah, people are watching. Keep in mind we've been pissed for a while and are only getting angrier. You might also keep in mind that this hasn't gone away and won't. It's spreading. You either get on the right side or you get Krusee-fied. Your choice. Make the right one, please, because we've grown kinda fond of some of you.

    Not you, Krusee. You'll NEVER be invited to the parties. And the doorman will always have a pic of you with a big red X over your face.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Remembering Terry Keel

    It's been so long since we've seen Terry Keel's butt ugly face that we have to admit it induced some laughter when Barfly and I got back from 28 Weeks Later (which ROCKS, by the way!) and I turned on the feed from the House.

    Barfly had never seen him before. Her comment was the funniest..."Cool timewarp hair. Very 80's nerd. He only gets laid by lake trash". As always, Barfly NAILS.IT.

    Terry Keel fooled everyone in Travis County into thinking he was a moderate for a long time. Then, when he realized the gig was up and that people had figured out his scam, he suddenly announced he wasn't running or re-election. I thought he was on some kind of a multi-year drunk until he popped up on my LCD last last night. Feeding CradDICK his lines, just like an understudy in the wings of a bad high school production of "Fiddler on the roof" (May God bless the Tsar and keep him far from us!). Honestly, at times we seriously wondered why he didn't just go on and shove his hand straight up CradDICK's ass. I guess we weren't the only ones.

    If something funny happens, we may blog it or we may not. Barfly and I are going 'shopping' for 'something'. The Mayor is keeping up with duckmouth's vain attempt to hold on to power. If he pulls this shit today, y'all should break quorum and fold into an automatic special. After last night, don't give in until he's off that dais.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    The Gospel according to Terry Keel

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    1. Speaker Craddick is always right.
    2. In case Speaker Craddick is wrong, refer to Rule Number One.
    3. You're out of order! I'm out of order! This whole freakin' House is out of order!

    Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 10:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 25, 2007

    It's the song that got me...

    The Republicans in the Lege have been all about promoting religion this session. Muse thought, why stop there... why not go ahead and take things to their logical conclusion...

    New state song (courtesy of Craddick D's):

    Craddick loves me, this I know
    For Speaker Craddick tells me so
    Legislators to him belong
    We are weak, but he is strong.

    Yes, Craddick loves me,
    Yes, Craddick loves me,
    Yes, Craddick loves me,
    Tom Craddick told me so.

    Check out the link for more of the funny!

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Tolls : You shouldn't be afraid of 39%, Senator Carona

    Compromise on 792? Yep. And trust us, it won't be forgotten.

    What about an override of the veto on 1892? There are still a few days left, plenty of time to tell 39% to piss off. I think the will exists in the House, but the Senate is weak. They've been intimidated by political has-beens in DFW (like that ridiculous Tarrant County Commissioner who's going to realize very soon that his political career is, in fact, over).

    For those of you who just want to understand WHY 792 is so bad, take a look at this piece on just one bad aspect of the bill, market valuation for infrastructure assets. Sounds dry as hell, right? Just take a read... it'll take you all of five minutes to see that the only possible reason for 39% to demand this be in the bill is that he's looking to enrich his friends at Cintra-Zachry (who have contributed HEAVILY to him... at least the Zachry friends) at the expense of Texas taxpayers. If you think that's not going to get much wider public knowledge in 2008, you better think again. I wasn't kidding Wednesday.

    Before I publish this, just a little funny blurb from Senator Carona in the Statesman post

    “We have far more to lose on this than the governor,” Carona said. “And he’s given in to the will of the Legislature on a great many points.”

    Actually, Senator, he's given in on little, if anything, of substance. As for having more to lose, you're right. You have your job to lose. Don't look at the Stalls. They can't help you. And neither can the walking dead politicos in North Texas you're so scared of.

    The sad thing about weak politicians is that they are NEVER scared of the folks who end up being able to do the most damage. The saddest thing is that these folks are thinking of trusting Ric Williamson and 39%. You won't be forgiven for that in 2008 and 2010, folks. If you guys think Sal Costello is bad (or are threatened by millions in oppo hits from Zachry funded PACs), you ain't seen nothing yet.

    Override the veto on 1892. Call 39%'s bluff.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 24, 2007

    Thank you, Senator Gallego

    HB 218, Rep. Betty Brown's odious voter suppression bill, has died. Finally. Senator Gallego penned a brilliant op/ed on the topic over at the Chronicle that I'm posting in the supersize.

    Thank you again, Senator and all of us at McBlogger wish you a speedy recovery!

    Why right to vote, without an ID, is worth fighting for This lawmaker counts his grandmother among reasons

    By STATE SEN. MARIO GALLEGOS

    In my community in Houston, thousands of first- and second-generation Americans came of age in the "greatest generation." They volunteered to protect our freedom in World War II. Many who came home had to fight to build a life for their families and exercise the rights they earned with their blood and tears.

    As a firefighter, I was trained to protect their lives and property. As a state senator today, it's the least I can do to honor their sacrifices by being in Austin to protect their right to vote.

    Every nonpartisan, academic study on the impact of voter ID laws in other states shows they suppress voter turnout among the elderly, low-income citizens, Hispanics, African-Americans and the disabled. But I don't need a study to know why voter ID proposals like House Bill 218 are bad; I just have to think about my grandmother.

    My grandmother came from Mexico, played by the rules, became a citizen and earned her right to vote. She didn't have a driver's license, but she had her voter registration card, went to the polls where the workers knew her, and voted. If the voter ID law were in effect, I'm not sure she or others like her could have voted.

    This year, close to 120 burdensome voter identification proposals were introduced in state legislatures across the nation. Not one of them has passed yet, and I want to make sure Texas isn't the only state to pass one. For many folks, a voter ID requirement doesn't sound like a big deal, but it would prevent many eligible voters from voting. Many elderly voters don't have a driver's license. Others who are disabled or work two jobs don't have the time, money or ability to get an ID card or documents they would need to vote. And new voter ID requirements would create confusion and long lines at the polls that would discourage many from voting.

    When more people vote for American Idol contestants than vote for president, we should make it easier for people to vote, not harder. Voter ID proponents say it's necessary to combat "voter fraud" and raise the specter of "illegal aliens" voting, but no one has documented a single case of "voter impersonation" that HB 218 would solve. And common sense tells us noncitizens are not going to risk deportation by voting.

    The bottom line is that voter ID is about politics, not fraud. In a 2004 election contest for a Harris County state House seat, a Texas House committee chaired by a conservative Republican found charges that hundreds of noncitizens voted were false. The Bush Justice Department's "Voting Access and Integrity Initiative," which directed U.S. attorneys to prioritize alleged voter fraud cases, resulted in only 24 convictions from 2002 to 2005. And the U.S. Election Assistance Commission found "that the accusations regarding widespread fraud are unjustified."

    Voter ID laws passed in Georgia and Missouri were struck down by the courts, which concluded that the cost of obtaining the ID and necessary documents amounts to a 21st century poll tax.

    In my community, there are veterans and people like my grandmother who earned their right to vote and shouldn't be forced to pay the modern day version of a poll tax. They are the real heroes in this story. I'm in Austin because it's my job to protect their right to vote.

    Gallegos, a Democrat, represents Houston.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 23, 2007

    Tolls : Congress working on PPP's; Lege Blacklist; Nothing on the moratorium

  • Congress has decided they aren't so much for corporate welfare and have started the process of putting the brakes on it. You know, since the states can't stop handing it out.

    Congressional Democrats are strongly discouraging states from entering the kind of public-private partnerships that led to the lease of the Indiana Toll Road by a foreign consortium,

    Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn. and chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has warned states that the committee will try to undo any agreements "that do not fully protect the public interest and the integrity of the national system."

    The committee said that could happen when Congress rewrites federal transportation programs and policies, which are funded through 2009.

    "We have become increasingly concerned with a new type of agreement that was approved for projects in Chicago and Indiana," Oberstar wrote in a May 10 letter to governors, state legislators and state transportation officials. The letter also was signed by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., who heads the panel's highways and transit subcommittee.

  • There will be more on this, but a pro-toll legislative hit list is being generated as a roadmap to the Democratic and Republican primaries next year, as well as the general election in November. I'm getting this from a few different sources and no, I've not been invited to the party. One other bit of detail... funding for some of this may be coming from Washington. I do know that the group is bipartisan, smart and mad as hell.
  • No gas tax increase which is not all that curious since, as we noted before, the necessity but not the political will exists for it. Either here in Austin or in Washington. The ridiculous thing is that the federal government is going to run out of money to support highway maintenance soon. When you underinvest in infrastructure, you pay for it in economic inefficiency. Sometimes taxes are cheaper and no one is saying the money has to only come from a gas tax. How about making corporations pay for the burden they put on free roads?
  • Well, 1892 has been vetoed, but nothing it being done on over-riding it. We also know that's exactly what everyone wants. So, what about SB 792, the so-called compromise bill? Well, without Amendment 13, it's useless. So, the conference committee will likely leave it on the bill and Perry will veto it. Which means exactly nothing will change. It's hard to be disappointed when you knew what the outcome was going to be all along. Granted, I was very wrong about the moratorium even being passed. However, the end result is still the same. Nothing is going to happen until we change some of the people sitting in the seats in the House and Senate.

    Which means next year is going to be brutal for a lot of people in the Lege. Don't say we didn't warn you.

  • Posted by mcblogger at 03:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 22, 2007

    Oh, Patty, you giant fuckup

    BOR is reporting that Patty Rose and Douchie Lucio (the young one) have decided to back a change in leadership in the House.

    I respect the Speaker and his family but I believe the House has to be governed from the middle.

    Uhm... yeah. Whatev. In case you hadn't noticed, we needed you on a whole bunch of shit this session, starting with the Speaker's race, and you were there for none of it. You're still dead to us. You and Douchie should know that THE ANTI-CRADDICK FOLKS DON'T NEED YOU AND NEITHER DO WE.

    Patty, you're not in a swing district any more. Whether it happens next year or 2010, you'll be out of politics for good. And good riddance. Maybe you can find a used car lot in Dripping. That's really more fitting for a scummy little bastard like you.

    Fuck you and your change of fucking heart, you dippy little twerp. You too, Lucio.

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    The Lege : Cook and Gallegos

    Talk about profiles in courage... Republican Representative Byron Cook last night asked CradDICK to step down, from the floor.

    I stand in front of you right now for one reason and one reason only - the survival of the Texas House. It’s time to remove Speaker Craddick from Speaker of the Texas House. This is very painful for me to get up and say this. I’ve lost a lot of sleep, and I’ve worried myself silly… It’s detrimental for [Craddick] to stay. I’m a Republican who voted for the Speaker three times… But I beg him to step down.

    This body will never be able to realize its potential, as long as this Speaker, continues to rule with intimidation… it must be stopped. It is wrong… This is hanging over this body… Mr. Speaker, I regret to say to you… please consider stepping down. Please don’t put this body through 18 months of hell… Be a statesman. This body can flourish under a new Republican leadership. Release us… please…

    Takes some guts to ask the leader of the body to take a hike, especially in light of the fact that Cook's already being threatened with a primary opponent. Rep. Cook, it ain't CradDICK or Leininger you need to be afraid of. Their record last cycle was, to say the least, THE SUCK. You did the right thing and we congratulate you for it. Actually, some of your fellow Republicans need to do the same thing as well. It might help them during the next cycle.

    Except you, Krusee. Nothing will help you. You could hand out bricks of gold at Wal-Mart @ 35 and 45 and it wouldn't help you.

    On a more somber note, Senator Mario Gallegos is back in town to prevent the Voter Suppression bill from once again rearing it's butt ugly head. The man is sacrificing his health to do the right thing for his constituents. Senator, we salute you and we hope that a very large bird who has just had a very large meal flies over Dewhearse today and shits all over him.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 17, 2007

    Different takes on Voter Suppression

    Glen Maxey has a great write up on the 2/3's rule in the Senate and how Dewhearse is trying to manipulate the Senate to get this POS pushed through. EOW has more about the fallout from Tuesday's action and how it's rapidly causing people to re-evaluate Dewhearse, especially in light of his decision to bend to the will of TinaFish the Spastic. Kuff thinks the bill may well be dead and points out that because of Dewhearse's bullshit, Sen. Shapleigh may have to miss his son's graduation until it's certain to be dead. Which sucks worse than my first boyfriend.

    Finally, The Lone Star Times is giving some mad props to their boy Sen. Dan Patrick (R - Crazytown) for trying to get the voter suppression bill passed. They also make the claim that 91% of Texans support voter suppression, a claim which I find highly suspect. I'd love to see that data and find out just what questions they asked. From reading the comments, it would appear that this idea about illegals voting has really twisted them around. Y'all, all jokes aside, you show me solid proof of massive illegal voting then maybe I'll listen. So far, I've not seen anything other than legislation which will effectively disenfranchise MILLIONS of Texans.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 14, 2007

    Will a jar of mole sauce become Speaker?

    Oh, fucking hell... does anyone really care? I mean seriously, as BOR has pointed out, this ain't January and the douche trying to mix it up with CradDICK is no better than CradDICK. What kind of a name is 'Keffer' anyway?

    The Mayor thinks the dais needs to be occupied by some tortilla chips which I think is silly. Everyone knows it should be a jar of awful mole from Randall's. I think an inanimate object could probably do a better job than CradDICK has done this session and at the end, the Republicans can crack it open and serve it on enchiladas right before they leave town. It's really more than they deserve.

    That being said, I think chaos and mayhem are way funny. So, bring it on, bitches!

    Posted by mcblogger at 03:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Might it be? Could it be?

    Could Craddick's Reign of Terror be in its final days? It seems like a lot to hope for on a Monday, but those wild and crazy guys at BOR seem to think it could happen.

    Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 11:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 10, 2007

    Coleman on CHIP

    Rep. Coleman wrote a great op/ed piece for the Chron regarding administrative issues that remain a massive problem with CHIP. Can't y'all fix this shit?

    On Monday, the Houston Chronicle ran an op-ed by Tamika Scott, the mother of Devante Johnson. She told the heartbreaking story of how her son, Devante, lost his Children's Health Insurance Program coverage because his papers continued to fall through the cracks. Soon after he lost his health coverage, he lost his life.

    In 1999, I was one of the original authors of the bill that created CHIP in Texas. Our goal was always to cover as many children as possible, not create red tape that denied health coverage to children. The administrative barriers Devante faced were the exact barriers we intended to avoid; yet, Devante's experience is one shared by hundreds of thousands of families across Texas. Just this last week, 17,000 children were kicked off CHIP, many due to administrative policies.

    Until we remove all the CHIP enrollment barriers, eligible children will continue to unfairly lose their health coverage.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 09, 2007

    Lottery sale is dead...

    Finally, the Lege does something right by letting 39%'s stupid lottery sale plan die the death it so richly deserves.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 08, 2007

    HB 13 and Chickenshit Politics

    You gotta admire Robert Black. Sure, he's a douche... no one is MAKING him work for 39%, yet day after day he goes in and tries to cover over the incompetence of a man that's more hated than a child molester. You have to admire someone who puts himself through that every day. It's like self-flagellation. Whether the person doing it is stupid or retarded is completely irrelevant. The only relevant fact is that they are DEDICATED.

    Apparently, some Rent-a-Rambo on 39%'s staff sent a bitchy letter that he scented with gun oil to Rep. Rick Noriega (D- Real Man) whining about Noriega's stance on HB 13. The cocksucker had the nerve to insinuate that Rick was trying to compromise homeland security... which is funny because that's exactly what leaving it in the hands of someone as incompetent as 39% will do. Rick, like Rep. Farrar and LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS ON THE BORDER, wanted homeland security to be non-political and in the hands of DPS. 39% just wanted another slush fund. Noriega, being a tough sone of bitch, fired back a letter to R-a-R and that pulled Black into the mix...

    "It's important for Representative Noriega to have a full understanding of what the Governor's Office of Homeland Security entails," Black said. "It's not just about border security, but emergency management in the event of a disaster, drug interdiction and coordinating efforts to keep our citizens safe."

    He does understand homeland security. Which is why he wanted it in the hands of DPS, not 39%. Nevermind the fact that Noriega's the only person who has actually been involved in border security... AS A SOLDIER. The only time 39% is anywhere near the border is when he's shooting a commercial for his re-election.

    Of course, the House being what it is (and Swinford being the whiny baby that he is) passed HB 13 last night. Kuff has more on Rep. Farrar's press release regarding the passage and the creation of yet another politicized slush fund for 39%.

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 07, 2007

    The Horse Woman and her bill

    Debbie Riddle's desire to prove her piety has finally passed the House. And we're, of course, all happy about it because we love us some hypocrisy! That, and we were wondering if Debbie The Horse Woman worshiped Satan. Or the golden cow. Or Charleton Heston. Or George Burns. Seriously, if she hadn't filed this bill we'd have no idea that she was, like us, Christian. Of course, unlike us, she's the kind of Christian who hasn't read the New Testament, specifically The Sermon on the Mount.

    And, according to the vote totals on her ridiculous bill, she's got quite a lot of company in the House (Strama?!?! WTF, hermano?). Vince over at Capitol Annex has some great dialog from the debate on the bill between Debbie Dumbass and Hochberg and Burnam. They ask Debbie what this is all about and she says it's about conforming the State pledge to the National pledge. I guess no one told Debbie that the time to do that was REALLY in the 50's when the National pledge was amended to include 'under God'. Of course, had that happened, no one would have been able to see what a great Christian Debbie is, which is what this was all really about anyway.

    There's really no gentle way to put this...if you voted for this bill, you didn't do it for any other reason than to be seen doing it. It's pretty shameful, IMHO. Those who voted nay did the right thing... I especially liked Valinda Bolton's statement on her vote

    I am and have been a Baptist all my life, and the concepts of religious liberty and separation of church and state are firmly ingrained in me. Roger Williams who lived in the 1600s is widely viewed as the father of Baptist life in America. He gave up a very powerful position in England and came to the colonies, fleeing religious persecution. However, even in the colonies he faced persecution because he wouldn’t worship as the leaders prescribed. In fact, late in his life he was banished to an uninhabited island and expected to die there. When, by God’s grace, he prospered there, the leader of the colony sent him a scathing letter demanding to know why he hadn’t just gone ahead and died as expected. Roger Willliams risked everything for what he believed. I have not been asked to risk as much, but my belief in religious liberty is that it is worth fighting for. It would be very easy to vote yes on this bill to avoid being seen as voting against God but I am very confident in my Christian faith and my relationship with God. I will be voting no and voting for religious liberty.

    So, there were TWO good reasons to vote against this stupid bill. Which makes me really wonder about the 124 people who voted for it. What surprises me most about this are the number of Republican votes. Why? Well, for folks that are supposedly Christian, they seem to know more about certain passages of the Old Testament than the New. Are their professions of faith merely pandering?

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Tolls : Bring on the Endless Summer

    Kuff and Burka both think we're destined for an endless legislative summer. The story goes that since the Lege will likely override the veto, 39% will call Special after Special until the Lege finally works out a solution for transportation funding. For what it's worth (likely not much since the only people who pay attention to us are those who drink a lot. Or are at bars while reading this... love y'all), the interesting part is not whether or not the veto is overridden, it's who will vote to override 39%.

    After talking to a certain candidate earlier tonight, I'm betting Carona, Ogden and Nichols all bail on the veto override vote.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 01, 2007

    First, there was a compromise... and it too was found to be shit

    Looks like the compromise on HB 626 may be dead. Why?

    BECAUSE IT'S FUCKALL EXPENSIVE AND WILL REQUIRE A MASSIVE EXPANSION AT THE SOS.

    Y'all, I have to go to Louisiana today. Do me a favor while I'm gone, 'K? Kill this piece of shit.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    April 30, 2007

    FloShap bitchslaps teachers

    Oh, Florence... WTF are you thinking? Hal at Half Empty has the story on FloShap's bill to hold teachers accountable in a way that will guarantee

    1) That teachers will be hard to come by
    2) Teachers will refuse to take on difficult tasks
    3) Kids will be the ones who get hurt

    That last point is the most interesting...

    No teacher will want to teach low ability students. Teaching low ability students will spell a death sentence for a teacher. I personally know teachers who request nothing but students with low learning ability because they feel they are most effective with these kids. Effective enough to get them to pass TAKS? Not always. There are other things to teach these kids – things that they can use.

    Imagine teaching a class full of students with sub-100 IQs, dyslexia, Turret’s, Limited English Proficiency, and out and out sociopaths, all of this mixed in with “G/T Gangstas” who are too busy writing computer programs to do their chemistry homework. It’s a zoo.

    And it’s a zoo that no one will want to teach anymore if it means that they will be fired in 3 years.

    Damn, Flo. You just can't stop hating on public schools, can you? What are you, challenging Parent PAC to take your ass out?

    Posted by mcblogger at 03:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    MORE VOTER ID CRAP IN THE HOUSE

    The House is set to debate HB 626 which will severely restrict voter registration in an effort to limit the number of people who exercise their right to vote. Matt at BOR has additional details as well as background on the origins of this bill and the fact that it's completely unnecessary. Kuffner has contact information for the folks who are generally considered swing voters in the House on this issue. Please call them today and ask them to take a stand against legislation that will negatively impact the lives of millions of Texans.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    April 27, 2007

    Border Police Chiefs ask the Lege for help

    HB 13 politicizes assistance to law enforcement on the border. Needless to say, the law enforcement officials on the border don't want that... they want DPS involved. The full text of their appeal is after the jump. Rep. Farrar is already working to get this fixed, according to Kuff.

    Why the hell isn't the State Office of Homeland Security part of DPS anyway?

    April 23, 2007


    To Whom It May Concern:

    This is an open letter to the media, our state legislators, and the Texas community as a whole that serves the purpose of voicing our collective concern regarding HB 13, which was recently voted out of the House Committee on State Affairs and is set to go to the House floor for a vote in the near future. In our opinion, HB 13 is severely flawed as written and needs to be amended before it can begin to serve the purpose it claims to serve, which is the protection of the citizens of our state.

    While we do not make it common practice to get involved in political debates, we feel we cannot in good conscience abstain from voicing our concerns regarding HB 13, as we are responsible for the safety and well-being of the citizens of our communities. We feel it necessary to explain that most of us were unaware of the existence of this piece of legislation regarding Homeland Security and the disbursement of $100 million in funds to law enforcement entities until very recently, as we were never contacted or consulted on the matter. This is despite the fact that we, as municipal police chiefs, are responsible for the security and protection of the majority of people both along the border area and across the state as a whole.

    Our fundamental concern is that HB 13 gives a civilian and political office, the Governor’s State Office of Homeland Security, the authority to develop, administer, and execute programs that should be under a law enforcement agency. As law enforcement professionals, we feel it would be wise to transfer command and control of all of the border security and other activities of the Office of Homeland Security from the Office of the Governor to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). DPS is best equipped to develop and administer these programs as well as the money it takes to run them, as they are the premier law enforcement agency in our state. DPS already works with local law enforcement and is familiar with our needs. DPS also has experience in conducting audits, administering performance tools, and evaluating success.

    Another major concern is that HB13 creates a Border Security Council that will decide where the funding for border security programs will go as well as measure the outcomes of those programs. The council consists of the director of the Sate Office of Homeland Security, the public safety director of DPS, and the executive director of the Texas Border Sheriffs' Coalition. Municipal police departments, including those that are local along the border, are not included in this decision-making body. We feel this severely jeopardizes our ability to obtain any of the funding the council will administer.

    In addition, the State Office of Homeland Security will, with advice from the Border Security Council, decide how to allocate funds for homeland security related activities in the state as well as monitor the success of those programs. Again, we are not included in this decision-making process and feel this will directly and negatively affect our chances of obtaining funding through these programs.

    Our concerns are based on that fact that the programs that have thus far been administered and funded by the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security have been solely focused on providing money to border sheriffs. Municipal police departments, including those along the border, have been virtually shut-out by the border security programs so far administered by the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security. We fear the current language in HB 13 will permit this practice to continue.

    In addition, we are also concerned about the results the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security has so far claimed to have obtained through its programs with the border sheriffs. Therefore, we openly question how their statistics and success rates have been calculated.

    We believe that these programs have been based on “surge” operations thus far. Using the “surge” tactic may in instances temporarily reduce crime in an area while the operation is undergoing, but it in no way produces a sustained effect. In fact, we recommend the DPS practice of disrupting and dismantling crime rather than the method currently used by the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security, which is disrupting and deterring crime and includes these “surge” operations.

    Let us be clear in that we do not oppose funding and support to the sheriffs of our state. In fact, we applaud and encourage it, as we feel it is important that all law enforcement personnel receive adequate and fair funding and support from the state. However, without proper organization, administration, and oversight, we feel that the money will not be used in the most efficient and successful way possible, as we feel has been the case thus far. Once again, we believe that DPS as a law enforcement agency would be much better equipped to ensure that programs related to both border security and Homeland Security as a whole are well-scrutinized and produce the results we all want to see.

    Finally, we must note that our interpretation of HB 13 leads us to believe that we will be required to enforce federal immigration laws. While we currently cooperate with the federal agencies regarding this matter, we do not feel that we are equipped in terms of training or manpower to enforce federal immigration laws as HB 13 requires.

    We call on our legislators to take into consideration our concerns, the concerns of other law enforcement professionals, and the concerns of everyday citizens when making the decision of whether or not to support HB 13 as it is currently written.

    We feel that any legislator that is genuinely concerned with equipping the Texas law enforcement community with what it needs to combat all kinds of crime, including drug trafficking and smuggling along the border area, should demand that major changes be made to HB 13 before supporting it.

    Because we believe that our state leaders should make an effort to include input from those of us most affected by the outcome of HB 13, we make ourselves available to these legislators to speak directly with them.

    We thank you for your time and your attention to this matter.

    Sincerely,


    Chief Fred Garza
    Uvalde Police Department
    964 W. Main
    Uvalde, TX 78801
    (830) 278-9147
    uvaldepd@swbell.net


    Chief R. L. McVay
    Castroville Police Department
    411 London St.
    Castroville, TX 78009
    (830) 931-2222
    Fax # (830) 931-2249
    castrovillepd@castrovilletx.us


    Chief Waylon Bullard
    Del Rio Police Department
    110 E. Broadway
    Del Rio, TX 78840
    (830) 774-8576
    Fax # (830) 774-8746
    wbullard@cityofdelrio.com


    Chief Eden N. Garcia
    Falfurrias Police Department
    203 E. Allen
    Falfurrias, TX 78355
    (361) 325-5041
    Fax # (361) 325-2869


    Chief John V. Martinez
    Hondo Police Department
    1101 16th St.
    Hondo, TX 78861
    (830) 426-5353
    Fax # (830) 741-5814
    JMARTINEZ@HONDO.NET


    Chief Andrew W. Aston
    La Coste Police Department
    16004 S. Front
    La Coste, TX 78039-0112
    (830) 985-9494
    Fax # (830) 762-9431
    Aston@usacops.com


    Chief James W. Bush
    Somerset Police Department
    7360 E. 6th St.
    Somerset, TX 78069
    (830) 622-5611
    Fax # 98300 429-3409


    Chief Vance E. Roberts
    Three Rivers Police Department
    PO Box 398
    Three Rivers, TX 78071-0398
    (361) 786-2743
    Fax # (361) 786-3987
    threeriverschief@yahoo.com


    Chief Ray Garcia
    George West Police Department
    404 Nueces St.
    George West, TX 78022-2250
    (361) 449-3800
    Fax # (361) 449-8880
    gwpolicedep@the-l.net


    Chief Ricardo Torres
    Kingsville Police Department
    1700 E. King
    Kingsville, TX 78363
    (361) 592-4211
    Fax # (361) 593-1715
    Chiefofpolice@kingsvillepd.us


    Chief Jose H. Garcia
    Roma Police Department
    PO Box 947
    Roma, TX 78584-0947
    (956) 849-2231
    Fax # (956) 849-3313
    jgarcia@cityofroma.net

    Chief Carlos Pena
    Robstown Police Department
    PO Box 626
    Robstown, TX 78380-0626
    (361) 387-3531
    Fax # (361) 387-2316
    cpena@robstown-pd.us


    Chief Daniel J. Bueno
    Alice Police Department
    415 E. Main
    Alice, TX 78332
    (361) 664-0186
    Fax # (361) 668-3648
    policechief@cityofalice.org

    Posted by mcblogger at 05:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Border Police Chiefs ask the Lege for help

    HB 13 politicizes assistance to law enforcement on the border. Needless to say, the law enforcement officials on the border don't want that... they want DPS involved. The full text of their appeal is after the jump. Rep. Farrar is already working to get this fixed, according to Kuff.

    Why the hell isn't the State Office of Homeland Security part of DPS anyway?

    April 23, 2007


    To Whom It May Concern:

    This is an open letter to the media, our state legislators, and the Texas community as a whole that serves the purpose of voicing our collective concern regarding HB 13, which was recently voted out of the House Committee on State Affairs and is set to go to the House floor for a vote in the near future. In our opinion, HB 13 is severely flawed as written and needs to be amended before it can begin to serve the purpose it claims to serve, which is the protection of the citizens of our state.

    While we do not make it common practice to get involved in political debates, we feel we cannot in good conscience abstain from voicing our concerns regarding HB 13, as we are responsible for the safety and well-being of the citizens of our communities. We feel it necessary to explain that most of us were unaware of the existence of this piece of legislation regarding Homeland Security and the disbursement of $100 million in funds to law enforcement entities until very recently, as we were never contacted or consulted on the matter. This is despite the fact that we, as municipal police chiefs, are responsible for the security and protection of the majority of people both along the border area and across the state as a whole.

    Our fundamental concern is that HB 13 gives a civilian and political office, the Governor’s State Office of Homeland Security, the authority to develop, administer, and execute programs that should be under a law enforcement agency. As law enforcement professionals, we feel it would be wise to transfer command and control of all of the border security and other activities of the Office of Homeland Security from the Office of the Governor to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). DPS is best equipped to develop and administer these programs as well as the money it takes to run them, as they are the premier law enforcement agency in our state. DPS already works with local law enforcement and is familiar with our needs. DPS also has experience in conducting audits, administering performance tools, and evaluating success.

    Another major concern is that HB13 creates a Border Security Council that will decide where the funding for border security programs will go as well as measure the outcomes of those programs. The council consists of the director of the Sate Office of Homeland Security, the public safety director of DPS, and the executive director of the Texas Border Sheriffs' Coalition. Municipal police departments, including those that are local along the border, are not included in this decision-making body. We feel this severely jeopardizes our ability to obtain any of the funding the council will administer.

    In addition, the State Office of Homeland Security will, with advice from the Border Security Council, decide how to allocate funds for homeland security related activities in the state as well as monitor the success of those programs. Again, we are not included in this decision-making process and feel this will directly and negatively affect our chances of obtaining funding through these programs.

    Our concerns are based on that fact that the programs that have thus far been administered and funded by the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security have been solely focused on providing money to border sheriffs. Municipal police departments, including those along the border, have been virtually shut-out by the border security programs so far administered by the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security. We fear the current language in HB 13 will permit this practice to continue.

    In addition, we are also concerned about the results the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security has so far claimed to have obtained through its programs with the border sheriffs. Therefore, we openly question how their statistics and success rates have been calculated.

    We believe that these programs have been based on “surge” operations thus far. Using the “surge” tactic may in instances temporarily reduce crime in an area while the operation is undergoing, but it in no way produces a sustained effect. In fact, we recommend the DPS practice of disrupting and dismantling crime rather than the method currently used by the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security, which is disrupting and deterring crime and includes these “surge” operations.

    Let us be clear in that we do not oppose funding and support to the sheriffs of our state. In fact, we applaud and encourage it, as we feel it is important that all law enforcement personnel receive adequate and fair funding and support from the state. However, without proper organization, administration, and oversight, we feel that the money will not be used in the most efficient and successful way possible, as we feel has been the case thus far. Once again, we believe that DPS as a law enforcement agency would be much better equipped to ensure that programs related to both border security and Homeland Security as a whole are well-scrutinized and produce the results we all want to see.

    Finally, we must note that our interpretation of HB 13 leads us to believe that we will be required to enforce federal immigration laws. While we currently cooperate with the federal agencies regarding this matter, we do not feel that we are equipped in terms of training or manpower to enforce federal immigration laws as HB 13 requires.

    We call on our legislators to take into consideration our concerns, the concerns of other law enforcement professionals, and the concerns of everyday citizens when making the decision of whether or not to support HB 13 as it is currently written.

    We feel that any legislator that is genuinely concerned with equipping the Texas law enforcement community with what it needs to combat all kinds of crime, including drug trafficking and smuggling along the border area, should demand that major changes be made to HB 13 before supporting it.

    Because we believe that our state leaders should make an effort to include input from those of us most affected by the outcome of HB 13, we make ourselves available to these legislators to speak directly with them.

    We thank you for your time and your attention to this matter.

    Sincerely,


    Chief Fred Garza
    Uvalde Police Department
    964 W. Main
    Uvalde, TX 78801
    (830) 278-9147
    uvaldepd@swbell.net


    Chief R. L. McVay
    Castroville Police Department
    411 London St.
    Castroville, TX 78009
    (830) 931-2222
    Fax # (830) 931-2249
    castrovillepd@castrovilletx.us


    Chief Waylon Bullard
    Del Rio Police Department
    110 E. Broadway
    Del Rio, TX 78840
    (830) 774-8576
    Fax # (830) 774-8746
    wbullard@cityofdelrio.com


    Chief Eden N. Garcia
    Falfurrias Police Department
    203 E. Allen
    Falfurrias, TX 78355
    (361) 325-5041
    Fax # (361) 325-2869


    Chief John V. Martinez
    Hondo Police Department
    1101 16th St.
    Hondo, TX 78861
    (830) 426-5353
    Fax # (830) 741-5814
    JMARTINEZ@HONDO.NET


    Chief Andrew W. Aston
    La Coste Police Department
    16004 S. Front
    La Coste, TX 78039-0112
    (830) 985-9494
    Fax # (830) 762-9431
    Aston@usacops.com


    Chief James W. Bush
    Somerset Police Department
    7360 E. 6th St.
    Somerset, TX 78069
    (830) 622-5611
    Fax # 98300 429-3409


    Chief Vance E. Roberts
    Three Rivers Police Department
    PO Box 398
    Three Rivers, TX 78071-0398
    (361) 786-2743
    Fax # (361) 786-3987
    threeriverschief@yahoo.com


    Chief Ray Garcia
    George West Police Department
    404 Nueces St.
    George West, TX 78022-2250
    (361) 449-3800
    Fax # (361) 449-8880
    gwpolicedep@the-l.net


    Chief Ricardo Torres
    Kingsville Police Department
    1700 E. King
    Kingsville, TX 78363
    (361) 592-4211
    Fax # (361) 593-1715
    Chiefofpolice@kingsvillepd.us


    Chief Jose H. Garcia
    Roma Police Department
    PO Box 947
    Roma, TX 78584-0947
    (956) 849-2231
    Fax # (956) 849-3313
    jgarcia@cityofroma.net

    Chief Carlos Pena
    Robstown Police Department
    PO Box 626
    Robstown, TX 78380-0626
    (361) 387-3531
    Fax # (361) 387-2316
    cpena@robstown-pd.us


    Chief Daniel J. Bueno
    Alice Police Department
    415 E. Main
    Alice, TX 78332
    (361) 664-0186
    Fax # (361) 668-3648
    policechief@cityofalice.org

    Posted by mcblogger at 05:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    April 26, 2007

    Covenant Marriage moves forward

    Everyone's favorite troll legislator, Bill Zedler is rolling out his dumbass covenant marriage bill. Seriously, this retard bill and it's author deserve to be ridiculed on a massive scale which we simply don't have the space for here.

    However, we'll give it a shot because I hate it when some puss filled anal sac wants to spend my tax dollars on marriage counseling for some weirdos who shouldn't have gotten married in the first place. Great idea, Bill, you jackass twerp.

    This ridiculous attempt to more thoroughly give the state of Texas control over people's lives will be going to the floor on Friday. Where it will waste time that would be better spent making s'mores. Seriously, at least they are tasty. Bill Zedler's bills aren't tasty. They aren't even well written. In fact, he's like the little retarded kid who tries sooo hard you want to give him a big gold star even though he never manages to really do much of anything but make himself look dumb.

    Contact your Rep and ask them to vote against this POS.


    Posted by mcblogger at 08:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    April 25, 2007

    Transportation : Krusee sho do love him some gas tax and tolling MoPac

  • Remember a while back when Mikey Krusee (R - Politically Dead Man Walking) was all about the gas tax? Turns out not so much. His very own bill has been stuck in Ways and Means since February. Of course, Krusee's attitude is that constituents are bitching all the time and he frankly doesn't really need to listen to them. I'm sure the people of WillCo will be reversing him on that next year.
  • The author is listed as 'Statesman Staff' but it's pure Kelso...

    What a relief for the tourist. It's now easier to find Hutto than ever before because the Texas Department of Transportation on Friday unveiled a Hutto exit sign on Texas 130.

    "Hutto Next 2 Exits," says the green and white sign about a mile north of U.S. 79. Yes, Hutto has grown so big that it needs two exits: one for Upper Hutto and one for Lower Hutto, or Baja Hutto.

    There's no doubt that travelers should be alerted that Hutto is just ahead. "We have Home Depot and a Sonic and lots of nail salons," said Debbie Holland, Hutto's mayor pro tem. She points out that Hutto had just 680 people when she moved there in 1977 and that it has 17,000 now.

    About 25 miles northeast of Austin in Williamson County, Hutto suddenly finds itself dotted with Chili's, AutoZone, Jiffy Lube, Wachovia, Taco Bell, McDonald's, Quiznos, a pawn shop, a karate studio, Dollar General and all that other chain stuff you thought you could avoid if you drove 25 miles northeast of Austin. Ah, for the good old days, when you knew you were in Hutto when you saw Snuffy's Bar & Grill out the car window.

    In case you were wondering, people of WillCo, this is what Krusee has been working on this session

  • On the Moratorium front, EOW and Kuff have been keeping track of the bills and where they stand. At this point, it's almost as if the Lege is playing to run out the clock. In other words, they probably won't get a bill to Perry before the drop dead date. Perry has a set amount of time to do something with legislation sent to him. If the Lege gets the transportation bill to him in time, there will still be enough time before sine die to override the veto. However, that's beginning to appear unlikely due to feet dragging in the Senate.

    Texas needs roads. We need a rational funding mechanism for it that best utilizes public resources. It's time for y'all to get off your asses and do something.

  • There's more from EOW including a great article from the SAEN by Terri Hall that's as reasoned and balanced an argument AGAINST road privatization as I have seen.

    The Texas Department of Transportation promises toll rates of 12 cents to 15 cents a mile, but the reality has been 44 cents up to $1.50 per mile on similar projects that just opened in Austin. When TxDOT has admitted it costs 11 cents to collect the tolls, it can’t possibly cover the operation or maintenance of that road with 12-cent to 15-cent tolls, much less pay the private toll operator its guaranteed 12 percent profit.

    In fact, TxDOT’s mantra is that the private company will charge “market rate,” which essentially means tolls without limit since there will be few, if any, alternatives. Bottom line: Using CDA private toll contracts is the most expensive option for motorists. Yet the governor and his cronies claim they’re doing all this without raising taxes.

    […]

    Since an ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure, let’s revisit the gas tax to prevent this shady widespread shift to private tolling and be done with it.

  • Lastly, are tolls coming to MoPac? According to the Statesman, that's exactly what it being planned one of the two north/south freeways in Austin. Honestly, this is a stop-gap measure to deal with traffic that's been forced onto MoPac because of chronic congestion on 35. Chronic congestion that could be dramatically alleviated with NO TOLLS ON 130. I'm not averse to managed lanes in principle if the money is used to fund expansion of alternatives AND if the money doesn't go to a private contractor. Lest you think me a 'all freeways, all the time' guy, by alternatives I'm including rail.

    The safety issues are my biggest concern.

    But as with so many questions about highway safety, any comparison to what might happen with MoPac's managed lanes is necessarily inexact. The state Transportation Department, to some degree because of experience with the Dallas HOV lanes, would build the Austin lanes differently.

    On those two Dallas highways, the only separation between the HOV lane and the regular lanes is a double stripe painted on the pavement. Signs tell drivers not to cross those solid double stripes, that movement from the HOV lane to the inside regular lane is supposed to occur only every mile or so, when there is an access point indicated by a dashed line.

    On MoPac, the managed lane would be segregated from the regular lanes by a series of closely spaced, flexible plastic pylons. At entry or exit points — and there would be only five, aside from the southern and northern ends — there would be a gap in the pylons of about 1,200 feet, about a quarter-mile, where people could make the lane change.

    The reality in Dallas, according to the 2004 report, is that many people have ignored those signs, weaving in and out of the managed lane in efforts to gain advantage or (in the case of people driving alone who are illegally in the HOV lane) to avoid being caught and ticketed. Most of the accidents, Cooner said, occurred because of that rampant lane changing.

    The fundamental problem is that cars in the HOV lanes at rush hour, by and large, are going 30 to 35 miles per hour faster than cars in the regular lanes, Cooner said. That speed differential makes lane changes more problematic than on a normal freeway, where everyone typically is traveling at the same speed.

    Of course, in the article even TXDoT acknowledges that something has to be done long term to alleviate traffic on MoPac. Daigh, the Austin District Engineer, thinks it's all about making it to Austin's version of Central Expressway. Bob Daigh, you're kinda dumb. If you'll pull the damn tolls off 130 you'll move a LARGE percentage of traffic of 35. That will allow the people clogging MoPac to use it instead. It's really very simple. Pulling 30% of the current traffic on 35 onto 130 will make Austin a much nicer place to live.

    How about a common sense compromise... Between the hours of 6:30-10:00 am and 3:30-7:30 pm you guys wipe away the tolls on 130. The rest of the time, you can toll them to your hearts content.

    Of course, you'd have to abrogate the contract y'all just signed with Cintra. Which is what you should do anyway.

  • Posted by mcblogger at 02:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    SB 1000 dies

    Vince at Capitol Annex has the deets on the death of Florence Shapiro's effort to use autistic kids as a proxy for vouchers.

    Now, Flo, why not prove how much you really DO care and get behind one of the bills the Democrats are trying advance that might actually help some kids.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    April 23, 2007

    Where's YOUR Representative?

    We've heard the Poll Tax is going to floor of the House today. We've also heard that it's going to pass because certain members will not be present. Some of them aren't even in Austin. Any wonder that some of them happen to be members of the Iscariot Caucus?

    Democrats who enable these bills are no better than the Republicans who vote for them. I can't believe some of these people want to play on the same team as the ridiculous and old (and ridiculously old) Betty Brown.

    Again, this is a stupid solution to a non-existent problem. Even Royal Masset thinks so. Why? Because he's thinking the same thing I am... it's going to affect both parties in horrible ways and reduce turnout and interest in government.

    While Democrats will lose poor voters under this pitiful legislation, the Republicans will lose the elderly, a solid Republican camp. Honestly, I think this will end up causing more problems for them in the short term than Democrats. From that prospective, I'm all about letting the R's cut their throats. HOWEVER, at the end of the day, PARTICIPATION trumps all concerns. We should be making it easier for people to vote.

    Instead, Republicans with the help of a few Democrats are making it harder. Nice work, y'all. Oh, and Betty... you aren't too popular these days. You're really going to hate 2008 because the same thing that's happening to Leo Berman is about to happen to you. It really sucks when people back home start planning to challenge you. In your own primary.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    April 22, 2007

    So that's where it went...

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWe've been wondering what happened to the Giant Wax Cock that endorsed CradDICK. We thought it had been destroyed by some girlblogger in a tragic purse accident. HOWEVER, we think we may know where it is. Who'sPlayin' suggested that it may be up the ass of none other than Rep. Dennis Bonnen. From The Texas League of Conservation Voters

    Check out the above clip of House Environmental Regulation Committee Chairman Dennis Bonnen "questioning" Jim Marston, Texas Director for Environmental Defense, on Rep. Mark Strama's "Clean Car" bill. This sort of bullying-from-the-Chair tactics are already legendary to environmental advocates. He's even done it to constituents and citizens who've driven to Austin, waited all day to testify, and then had the nerve ... the nerve! ... to disagree with industry's perspective. It appears others have also noticed the Chairman's less than friendly attitude. Check out these two recent stories on the matter from the Austin American Statesman and Texas Observer.

    No one expects a Craddick-appointed Chair of Environmental Regulations to be a huge friend to the conservation community's agenda. That's not why he got the job. It's no surprise to anyone that he carries water for the Chemical Council, let's good environmental bills die a lonely death in his committee, and fights any amendments on the floor that might ...gasp ... further regulate our already "overly-regulated" industries. But what is surprising, shocking, and disturbing, is the hostility and venom he spews.

    O.K., Chairman, we get it. You disagree. But let's at least have an exchange of ideas, a civil disagreement, a healthy debate even. That's what it was like with the former Chairman, Warren Chisum. You didn't expect much more out of Chisum in the form of good bills from his committee, but you were treated with respect, he listened to testimony, and on rare occasions, he changed his mind. Instead, we've got Dennis the Menace. As one anonymous House Member said after witnessing a Bonnen committee tirade, "Geez, what is wrong with that guy? He must have gotten his *ss-kicked a lot on the playground, or something."

    And that pretty much sums it up. A playground bully masqeurading as Committee Chair.

    I think he's bitchy because he has a Giant Wax Cock up his ass. I know that would make me kinda cranky (seriously, the damn thing was HUGE).

    (hat tip to BOR)

    Posted by mcblogger at 03:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    April 18, 2007

    Appraisal 'relief' passes...

    You dumb assholes.

    Normally I'm not stunned by the Lege (I think most of y'all are irredeemably stupid... even a few of the D's) or any of the really dumb shit that gets passed session to session. Why? Because you're really all mostly ego and little intellect. Take MOST of the Republicans who'd be drooling on themselves if not for CradDICK closing their mouths for them. This is not to say I'm brilliant... I'm not. In fact, I'm not even particularly clever. However, I'M SMARTER THAN 87 OF YOU.

    87 of you are knuckle dragging mouthbreathers. Take HB 216 which just tonight passed the House with the ayes numbering (I kinda phoned it in, right?) 87. You nays were smart and we'll help you spin the vote politically... in fact, by the time we're done, appraisal caps are going to look as foolish to ordinary Texans as they do those who actually know something about them.

    OK, dumbfucks (and yes, on this one I'm talking to three of my favorite Reps... Strama, Howard and Bolton) what now? How are you going to replace the revenue? You gonna finally grow a pair and pass an income tax? It won't be as hard as you think but the problem is that y'all lack the political courage to do it.

    The big problem with all this is that we've neglected infrastructure in this state for decades now. Schools, roads, hospitals, you name it we've cut taxes, shifted revenue and not paid nearly enough to even keep up with additional services demanded just because of population growth. That has to change NOW and this is NOT AN AUSPICIOUS FIRST STEP. People want services but they don't realize taxes pay for those services. You have to explain it to them. Republicans just want to corrupt the budget and borrow their way into oblivion. Democrats want to freeze spending and occasionally raise taxes without ever making the necessary investments that'll keep the economy growing. At least Democrats pay off debt. What happened to the Democrats of old who passed laws to build out our infrastructure? We could really use folks like them again.

    The ayes have done their constituents a disservice. What's more, they failed to even look at how badly appraisal caps worked in California. I expect this kind of poor decision making from Republicans... they are largely to blame for most of the problems we have today. I did not expect this from Democrats I respect.

    (hat tip to Vince at Capitol Annex)

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    April 17, 2007

    Tolls : Laura and Clear Channel love them; Cornyn the enabler; Legislative cowardice

  • Dallas Progress has done some interesting work on the Trinity Toll Road in Dallas. This is the great (great!) toll road that will be built along with parks and a lake in the Trinity Floodplain. That's right, they are going to build a road in the damn floodplain. Nice idea, fuckwits. The cheerleader for this ridiculous plan? The much hated Laura Miller, queen supreme of bad ideas. The only things that would make tolls palatable to people are if the money STAYED COMPLETELY IN TEXAS (no public/private partnerships) and if the tolls went away when the bonds used to build the roads are paid. Laura shits on both ideas. I guess Miller has decided she doesn't want to run for higher office.

    On the issue of toll roads having their toll booths removed once the road costs are paid in full (like it used to be):

    "Those days are over....there's never going to happen that we're going to build toll lanes when a toll disappears (her bad grammar, not mine)."

    See Laura talk. See Laura stumble. See Laura become unelectable. It's a shame, really. Sure, Laura's a waste of space and roundly hated. However, like most electeds at the local and county level, she's bought into this 'no roads or toll roads' BS, instead of calling out the horrendous actions of Republicans in the Lege (like Krusee) who haven't done a damn thing for transportation funding.

  • Laura Miller's not the only one loving tolls roads... so is Clear Channel which has decided to run billboards around the state that are pro-TTC on behalf of Texans for Safe Reliable Transportation. Remember them? Yeah, I thought you would... industry shills trying to run a second rate PR campaign and failing miserably. Losers. No matter how y'all try to sell it, reality is reality and everyone knows tolls are the most expensive way of paying for infrastructure... especially if you privatize the roads.
  • Matt over at BOR has a great piece up on what enabled this whole toll road mess off, a memo written by John Corpsyn when we was AG.

    John Cornyn created the Trans-Texas Corridor. In a 7 page Attorney General's opinion, former Attorney General of Texas, John Cornyn created the rules that created the toll roads.

    In his March 13, 2001 decision, Cornyn bends and ignores rule after rule in our state constitution. Cornyn, bent the rules to allow federal funds to be used for state toll roads.

    TxDOT was allowed to use taxpayer funds to build toll roads with only one requirement-- eventually all money had to be paid back. There is no deadline. There is no payment plan. All the opinion says is, all money has to be paid back… eventually.

    Let me guess... it won't ever be repaid? What's worse, the financing the companies are lining up to build these roads is, in part, backed by taxpayers. If they default, we get stuck with the bill. Sounds like a good deal for the private companies, doesn't it? Or you could call it 'corporate welfare' which is way more accurate.

  • Finally, Eye on Williamson has an article posted regarding legislative cowardice in raising the gas tax which has put us in the spot we're in now.

    The concept of long-term leases, however, takes that approach to a whole ‘nother level. In Indiana, Texas and elsewhere, government is putting its captive market of toll-paying travelers in the hands of a private company, which is free to generate new revenue by jacking those tolls higher than elected officials would dare.

    That’s where the “free money” paid to state governments really comes from — higher tolls paid by their own citizens.

    The long-term leases offer a way for government to privatize a tax hike. Even worse, that higher tax will be paid solely by the users of those toll roads, while revenues from that project benefit the entire state.

    Don't forget, while you're reading all this, that here in Texas toll roads are going to be EVERYWHERE and catch EVERYONE. Given that, the gas tax is hands down cheaper, less regressive and a better use of taxpayer resources. The Democrats sure as hell get it and more than a few Republicans. So why aren't we talking about an increase in the gas tax? Trust me, raise it and any challenger that raises up, you can slap back down. It's simple. For you, it was an issue of asking people to pay an extra 1 cent per mile, vs. 25 cents per mile. Your audience will understand.

  • Have a goodun!

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    April 16, 2007

    Voter ID...a shitty solution in search of a non-existent problem

    As Vince over at Capitol Annex points out, there is a rumor floating around that the votes exist to bring down both of the Voter ID bills that are scheduled to hit the floor of the House Tuesday. However, the fact remains that the people who wrote these ridiculous bills should be shamed and ridiculed. In the case of the author of one of the bills, Rep. Betty Brown, Kelso's already taken a great first step, by pointing out some of the more absurd items one can use to prove your citizenship under Rep. Brown's bill...

    Besides, who has most of this other stuff on hand anyway? What kind of a witch would you have had to be married to, to carry around your divorce decree in your pants? Also, what kind of nut brings both his divorce papers and his hunter's license to the polls? Do you really want to be standing near this walking barrel of chuckles when he lights the place up?

    And how come some of these ID cards are judged to be twice as valuable as others? You can vote by showing your handgun permit. But if you show your fishing license, you have to show additional proof, like your sex change dossier.

    Does this mean the bill considers packing heat twice as valuable as limiting out on bass?

    The bottom line, as Kelso points out, is that the damn registration card should be all the proof you need. That's why we have the things.

    It would be nice if the only retarded effort on the part of the Republicans was Betty's little bill (way to waste your constituents tax dollars, Betty. I'm thinking the folks in Kaufman and Henderson Counties have more important things for you to do, like increasing funding to education). However, it's not. Never one to be left out of a concerted effort to 'do little and look busy', Rep. Phil 'Burger' King has filed his own Let's-Screw-Up-The-Vote bill which makes drastic changes to the already cumbersome process of REGISTERING to vote. Which is exactly what you'd want to do in a DEMOCRACY.

    So what's the rationale behind these bills? Is there more than one? Not really... unless you really think there are a massive number of Mexican nationals crossing the border and voting. If you do, then you're already pretty stupid and we can't help you other than to suggest euthanasia.

    (HT to Keeping Terrell in the Loop for the Kelso find)

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Ritter gives the homebuilders a big, wet, sloppy kiss

    John Coby has done an awesome series on homebuilders and the new legislation which was ostensibly to help homebuyers but is, in reality, all about keeping them from the legal recourse they desperately need.

    It may surprise you to learn than the bill was carried by a Democrat, Representative Ritter. Rep. Ritter, why on earth would you not reign in these people? The rumor circulating around is that your business outside the Lege is dependent on homebuilders. If true, you've just put a giant target on your back from the D's and R's. I know it's hard to vote against self-interest, but that's the deal you made when you were sworn into office.

    The homebuilders in Texas today have quite a moat around them when it comes to anyone getting them to do anything once a home has been sold. Home warranties are usually worthless and taking something to the TRCC is literally one of the most frustrating things you can do with your time.

    Ritter is carrying the homebuilders bill, HB1038, that will provide only minor modifications to the Texas Residential Construction Commission, a Commission that is nearly useless for homebuyers with construction defects. Of course, Ritter will declare, as did his aide,that HB1038 will provide a plethora of consumer protection for the commission.

    This is entirely horseshit. Representative Ritter, who owns a lumber company and was honored by the National Association of Home Builders for creating the TRCC, is doing whatever he can do to protect the homebuilders. It should be no wonder that the homebuilders are praising Ritter's bill. His aide, Davis, has refused to return phone calls, emails, or address serious problems with the bill, and has attempted to bullshit consumer advocates (like myself) into thinking they are doing something good for the consumer.

    While not all homebuilders are equal (if I was looking at new construction, I'd be looking for a DR Horton sign), there are some who have made it a practice to screw their customers. This bill should be amended mercilessly to include some real protections for homebuyers. And just so y'all don't think I'm some disinterested third party, when these houses go bad and no one can or will pay to fix them, the mortgages often default. I don't like defaulted loans. It makes me have a super bad day. When I get unhappy EVERYBODY gets unhappy. It's not that I'm special or anything of the sort. It's that I'm that big a bitch.


    Posted by mcblogger at 09:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    April 13, 2007

    Republican hijinks : 39% channels Hoover, Chisum is divorced and Dan Patrick gets slapped down

    Recently I commented to a friend that the Lege has been pretty boring this year. Sure there was the Speaker's race but after that, everything kinda turned anti-climatic since with CradDICK back as Speaker things headed in a predictable direction.

    Luckily, things have returned to crazy over the last 48 hours and thank God, it's the Republicans bringing the stupid.

  • Turns out that 39%, much like J. Edgar Hoover, likes to keep files on folks. Vince at Capitol Annex has the full deets and I'm posting a release from Rep. Raymond on his bill to shift this clandestine database to DPS... where it belongs. We always knew 39% was a nosy asshole, but this is insane.
  • Muse has more on Warren Chisum's smackdown by Rep. Senfronia Thompson. It would seem his dumb ass marriage counseling bill is dead for this session and good riddance. Here are some choice quotes, via Muse, on the issue:

    "I do not believe it is good policy for the state to intervene in the sanctity of a marriage," said Rep. Tommy Merritt, R-Longview. "For us to say an eight-hour course is going to make a marriage sustain itself is not the prudent way to encourage a Christian marriage." (so, only Christians were going to have to take Warren's class?)

    Tommy, I like you but I gotta tell you that sometimes you're as dumb as a box of hair. You're right, the state shouldn't be getting into marriage. Why the hell didn't you have this opinion in 2005 when HJR 6 was up? You and the others who voted to discriminate against gays and lesbians opened the door to Chisum and his particular brand of crazy.

    Rep. Gary Elkins, R-Houston, said he had a gnawing concern about government's proper role in society. "Marriage is sanctioned by the state, but it's really a Biblical or historically religious ceremony. I don't know how government's going to counsel people or give people advice," he said.

    Well, HOLY SHIT, Gary! Who the fuck woke you up? Go the hell back to bed, you halfwit. Just like Tommy, you opened the door to this in 2005. I like Tommy somewhat but you don't get that kind of a pass. You're from Houston and you should know better, douchie.

    Damn with all stupid ass Republicans! Y'all quit listening to asshats and start thinking things through, 'K? Keep in mind we're cutting you some slack because you voted with the right side this time. Keep doing it and we may stop referring to you privately as a cockwipe.

  • Dan Patrick, the minor radio personality and Senator from somewhere in Houston (in that order), tried to bully recently re-liver-fied Senator Mario Gallegos yesterday. Shock of shocks, Sen. Lucio and Sen. Whitmire rose up, got their angry on, and bitchslapped his ass.

    It started like this: Sen. Mario Gallegos was railing against the money set aside in the budget for property-tax cuts a couple of years down the road. Echoing earlier sentiments from Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, he described the reduction in school property tax rates approved last year as a tax cut for the rich.

    Then Patrick, the bombastic GOP talk-radio host from Houston, stood up and said he was tired of hearing that the property tax cuts were for the rich. He said people who make $60,000 or $70,000 per year and own homes would benefit from them, and, in a somewhat heated tone, questioned who was looking out for the middle class.

    Keep in mind this was the first day back for Gallegos, D-Houston, who has been gone since the beginning of the session recovering from a liver transplant.

    Sen. Eddie Lucio objected to Patrick’s tone with Gallegos, and Sen. Steve Ogden questioned whether the brewing discussion was germane to the budget debate. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst allowed it to continue. Then Whitmire stepped in and lambasted Patrick for lambasting Gallegos.

    The man returns from a major transplant and Patrick decides to jump up his ass his first day back. Dick move, hermano.

  • Who's up for drinks later?

    Richard Peña Raymond

    District 42 - Laredo

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact:
    Chuy Gonzalez

    April 12, 2007
    (512) 463-0558

    Rep. Raymond Bill Will Protect Citizen Privacy by Moving Perry's Improper TDEx Data
    Base to DPS

    ~Raymond Calls for Immediate Action and Oversight Needed~

    Austin- Tomorrow morning I will seek permission from the House to introduce
    legislation to immediately move Governor Rick Perry's Texas Data Exchange (TDEx)
    data base out of his office and into the Depart of Public Safety.

    An investigative report by the Texas Observer has disclosed that the office of Gov.
    Perry has spent over $3.6 million to create an extensive centralized database (TDEx)
    containing detailed personal information on thousands of taxpaying Texans. The data
    base is not in the custody or under the control of any state or federal law
    enforcement agency. Rather, this information is under the control of Rick Perry and
    those he authorizes. It is imperative that this information be retrieved and be
    secured within the Dep. of Public Safety. It should not be used until guidelines
    are determined to protect the privacy rights if the Texans included in the Governors
    improper data file.

    There is no right greater as an American citizen than the right to privacy. This
    basic right has been put in jeopardy by the Governors reckless and improper handling
    of Texans personal information. According to the Texas Observer, the Governor has
    used both State and Federal funds to organize and compile this massive data base and
    has allowed at least 7,000 individuals access to the data. This action was taken
    without any specific authorization for oversight by the Legislature.

    As a member to the Defense Affairs and State-Federal Relations committee, which has
    oversight on the Governors Office of Homeland Security, I am also calling on the
    office of Governor Rick Perry and his Homeland Security Director Steve McCraw to
    come before this committee and explain why they have invaded the privacy of millions
    of Texans.

    No Texan regardless of ideology or political party believe a governor should have
    unlimited access to into the lives of private individual. It is disappointing that
    Rick Perry has been blind to the basic fundamental rights of those that elected him.

    ###

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    April 11, 2007

    Tolls : When Krusee loses, Texas wins

    Well, while we may not have been able to liveblog the floor action, the always excellent Eye on Williamson and Capitol Annex were and both have excellent recaps up. In the end, Kolkhorst's Amendment survived even the evil machinations of Mikey Krusee and was passed, 134 -5-2. Now it's on to the Senate where it will likely pass in a similar, if not identical, version which will then (more than likely) be vetoed by 39%.

    Kinda anti-climatic, no?

    We're not jazzed about the composition of the committee and the fact that 39% gets to name anyone to it. As far as we're concerned, 39% should be left out of the decision making process entirely as his decisions to date have been completely disastrous for Texans.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    April 10, 2007

    Toll moratorium on the floor of the House...

    The House has taken up the toll moratorium... Faith over at Texas Kaos has the deets and contact information for our electeds. I'll have a recap later this evening or manana.

    Don't think for a minute we aren't paying attention just because we aren't liveblogging this...

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    April 06, 2007

    Tolls : The 130 Tollway is sold and 39% can't stop spouting stupid

    ...well, 'leased' at any rate. Which is a bit like saying that someone who's dead is just 'napping until Christ returns to the Earth'. Good to know that while the Lege diddles around not accomplishing much of anything to fix transportation in Texas, TXDoT is moving full steam ahead with their horrendously ill-conceived privatization scheme.

    Meanwhile, 39% and some lackey from the Bush Administration were wandering around talking about how badly Texas needs tollroads. What they failed to mention was that private tollroads are the worst possible solution to the problem of transportation finance (far more expensive for the taxpayer). Of course, it didn't really matter since no one pays attention to what 39% says. However, one would FOR ONCE like to see a reporter actually call him out regarding the fact that these private toll roads, advertised as an innovative way to finance roads, are in reality nothing more than CORPORATE WELFARE.

    So, Republicans HATE welfare when it helps the poor but they love it when it helps incredibly wealthy corporations and squeezes the hell out of taxpayers.

    “Our message today is that building needed infrastructure is essential to creating jobs and attracting economic development investments in Texas. And you can’t accomplish that with a two-year moratorium on needed road projects,” Perry said.

    As if ANYONE needs a gimp like 39% to tell them that roads = jobs and economic growth. We all know that, you blow dried shitstain. I mean really, is there anyone left in the state who doesn't realize we need to start making a massive investment in infrastructure?

    In the 1950's, when Eisenhower first got the Interstate Highway System approved, there was discussion about tolling it instead of financing it through taxes. That discussion mostly ended when the electeds realized tolls were too expensive. Only in today's environment of stupidity created by Republican leadership (a contradiction in terms if ever there was one) in Texas has this retarded idea found true believers.

    We're watching. We're pissed. The more we learn about things and the more you try to talk it up the more agitated people get. 39%'s last two years in office are going to be brutal with a Democratic House undoing everything he's worked so hard to achieve. Hell, if things keep going this way, Democrats might even take back the Senate. Think it won't happen? Replay 2006 in your head.

    Just wait. This is a good start, but the House version still needs to come out of Krusee's committee and then survive 39%'s veto.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    April 05, 2007

    Paging Warren Chisum...

    Dear Warren:

    You should really have a talk with this guy. He's way smarter than you AND he believes in God. In fact, he has the same belief system I have. So, can your 'literal interpretation of the Bible' crap and think this one out. Take a few days if you need to. I know thinking is hard, but it's sooo worth it.

    Nothing but love,

    McB

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Paging Warren Chisum...

    Dear Warren:

    You should really have a talk with this guy. He's way smarter than you AND he believes in God. In fact, he has the same belief system I have. So, can your 'literal interpretation of the Bible' crap and think this one out. Take a few days if you need to. I know thinking is hard, but it's sooo worth it.

    Nothing but love,

    McB

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    April 03, 2007

    More solar for Texas

    OK, so it's a little old but the op/ed piece is great. There hasn't been a lot out about the bills being advanced by Rep. Coleman and Sen. Ellis in support of clean, efficient solar power in Texas.

    TexSun wouldn't just provide value for people with the solar systems, but for everyone who uses the electricity grid. Solar PV generates the most electricity during long hot summer days, when electricity is the most expensive to produce, reducing the need to build new power plants and transmissions lines.

    The state as a whole would benefit by leveraging significant private investments to support our public electricity infrastructure. And with growth in demand, the economies of scale will help make solar affordable for everyone.

    TexSun would also be great news for our environment. By reducing demand for fossil fuels, the fund would reduce smog pollution by 5,000 tons and global warming pollution by 3 million tons.

    This is a great, make sense program that will help lower the cost of PV systems, making solar more affordable by creating an incentive for the expansion of the manufacturing base. Hell, power companies used to receive subsidies, why shouldn't solar which has a better long term cost profile.

    Not to mention keeping more pollution from going into the atmosphere.

    Posted by mcblogger at 04:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 29, 2007

    Toll Road Madness

    Via EOW...

    To Senator Carona and our Texas Lawmakers,

    You have a chance to actually stand up for all Texans and stop the surge of selling our roads to private companies and selling out drivers to be at the mercy of excessive price-gouging professionals. It seemed like politicians were actually listening to the many, many people who are outraged about being tolled to death by private companies and TxDOT. With a huge majority of leaders in the Senate and in the House already signed on to stop Toll Fever, I cannot for the life of me figure out why the brakes have been applied. We don’t want tollroads, no matter who builds them. We do not want to drive around with cameras pointed at our butts, then receive 10 bills from 10 different toll companies with 10 different fees/charges.

    It is very simple and the public gets it: TxDot needs money and tollroads/TTC are the quickest way to get resources for other projects. This upfront money will then be used for other projects around Texas. Threats of “delayed projects” have started making the papers. Have you seen the $1.00 charge for “invoice fee” at the bottom of a toll bill? What about the rumored $1.50 “camera fee”? What other hidden charges or increases can we expect from these For-Profit companies?

    I have three of the same form letters from Gov. Rick Perry saying that “to convert an existing tollroad into a tollroad the public has to vote on it”. WHAT VOTE? Is this letter referring back to vote back in 2001 (Amendment 15) in which the governor loves to say that “we voted for tollroads all across Texas” and the “conversion to toll vote”? Put it very clearly on the next state ballot and see what your answer will be!

    Don’t we have a $13 billion surplus? There are other forms of taxation or revenue that the state needs to look at first. Also, if we’re embracing public-private partnerships, why not let corporations “sponsor” our roadways instead of OWN them? Example: the ExxonMobil I35 Interstate. Let them pay millions to have their name/signs, while we still get to keep our state road system.

    It took decades for our Texas Highway system to be outdated, mismanaged, or ignored. Interstate 35 has been 2 lanes since the 1960’s! We’re not buying the threat of “delayed projects” as an excuse for TxDOT/politicians to get in bed with for-profit only companies. Private tollroads and the TTC are the biggest and most shameful Land-and-Money Grabs that Texas has ever seen! Why do you think so many people (Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and former apathetic voters) are furious and loudly speaking out? But, ……… are you listening?

    You have a choice:
    a) Side with Private Business, Special Interests Groups, Lobbyists
    b) Side with THE PEOPLE OF YOUR STATE

    We are watching very, very closely. What’s it going to be?

    Linda Lancaster

    WOW. What she said.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 28, 2007

    In the news...

  • The Republicans in the Lege are once again trying to make it more difficult to vote and register to vote. Ostensibly, this legislation is designed to protect the legitimacy of votes. In reality, it should be known as the 'Keep Things White' Act. Mario has more at BOR. Take a few minutes, call your Rep and let them know that this shitty legislation shouldn't make it to the floor. In case you were wondering, the R douche driving this POS is none other than Rep. Leo 'Deport 'em' Berman. On that basis alone it should be killed.
  • Alberto Gonzales is taking time off to come visit his friends in Houston. Considering that his term of office will more than likely end in the next couple of days, one has to wonder about the urgency of his visit. Come on, Al! You'll be back home soon enough.
  • Justice Nathan Hecht is once again crossing the line, this time with his fund raising appeal letter that is causing concern due to the fact that it's being sent out to lawyers who may or may not have business before the court. When is this nut up for re-election? Calling Bill Moody! Seriously, this guy should be judicial target #1 for the Democrats. It's an easy pickup.
  • Posted by mcblogger at 11:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Covenant Marriage? Can't we just set the money on fire?

    Kuffner has more on Warren Chisum's latest craptacular idea. Seriously, there isn't a better way to waste taxpayer dollars? Maybe setting them on fire? Buying Debbie Riddle an outfit from a store other than Talbot's Outlet?

    Seriously, someone's gotta have a better idea than paying for this bullshit. Especially when more than 10% of Texans can't even get married.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 27, 2007

    When Reason just don't make no sense

    Few things will anger me more than disingenuous arguments in support of toll roads. Kuff pointed me to an op/ed piece in the HouChron by Geoffrey Segal, director of government reform at the Reason Foundation. These were the same fucko's who thought utility deregulation would be a smashing success. Even CATO doesn't say that any more.

    So, before we go into debunking his actual arguments let's all admit that the idiot has no credibility. It will be interesting to see how much money interested parties gave Reason last year. Trust me, that's the MO... there will more than likely be a donation from a construction company or financier that is depending on the corporate welfare of the 'public-private partnerships' for future profits. That's reality. Reason touts this as freeing the market from government control when in reality it is nothing more than funneling public funds to private corporations. I'm thinking not so much. In fact most people agree with it's a super bad idea. For an organization that cares so much about free enterprise one has to wonder why they are so interested in giving welfare to anyone.

    Of course, we should actually look at what Geoff wrote:

    It seems many of the state Texas legislators who want to delay toll roads until 2009, at the earliest, have forgotten why the governor, Legislature and Texas Transportation Commission agreed to allow state and local agencies to partner with the private sector in the first place: TxDOT The Texas Department of Transportation is short $86 billion it needs to meet its congestion reduction goals as the state Texas adds another 13 million residents over the next two decades.

    State lawmakers could raise the gas tax, which is supposed to pay for roads. But because of inflation and more fuel efficient vehicles, the 20 cents per gallon tax isn't even enough to maintain existing roads, let alone build needed new highways. Lawmakers haven't raised the gas tax since 1991 and show no signs of wanting to push the massive tax increase that would be needed to produce $86 billion.

    Remember the $86 bn estimate that TTI pooped all over? Kuff does. So do I. So why would the douche from Reason not remember that it had been debunked? Possibly because it makes for a less interesting op/ed and by 'less interesting' I mean 'thoroughly unconvincing'.

    EVERYONE realizes the gas tax is the better alternative to private toll roads. Except Krusee who's still fixated on how regressive gas taxes are and still pimping that straw man argument that tolls primarily effect those in the suburbs.

    As for the raising the gasoline tax, Krusee said he was okay with that. But he added that he was going to make sure his colleagues knew that it was one of the most “regressive taxes” on the planet. He said most of the toll roads on the drawing board will benefit people living in the suburbs, who for the most part are affluent Republicans. “When we do a fuel tax, people in the inner city are not only subsidizing people who live in the suburbs, but they’re also subsidizing NAFTA trucks carrying goods from Monterrey to Chicago.”

    We addressed that, Mikey. Guess you were too busy on a time machine to notice. The one thing even the normally progressive Texas Observer forgot to think about is that these roads are going to be built EVERYWHERE. We're all going to be driving on them. Given that it catches all segments of the population, doesn't it make more sense to spread the burden as cheaply as possible. One thing that never gets mentioned regarding the gas tax is that it, much like tolls, it's more expensive for those who use the roads the most.

    Either way we are going to be paying usage fees. Given that, just being smart would necessitate going with the option that gives you the most road for your buck, the gas tax. Of course, the Lege has never really been interested in doing the smart thing.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 22, 2007

    Toll Road Nutty

    Every once in a while, my mother loses it in a really ugly way. It's usually regarding a stressful time like Christmas, Thanksgiving or Last Call. My sister and I refer to the event as 'a nutty'. We usually append it with the event name (e.g., Christmas nutty) and will occasionally reference really heinous ones (like the Thanksgiving, 2003 nutty or The Library nutty) by date of occurrence or location. What makes it so funny is that the nutty is normally of short duration and afterward she's OK. I guess you could call it cathartic. Barfly and I just refer to it as time to get the hell out of the way.

    Now I feel like taking a moment for my own little nutty over toll road bullshit. Which moron in Dallas city government decided to build a tollway IN THE TRINITY FLOODPLAIN? From what I've read so far on this stupid idea, the project was sold to voters in 1998 as a parkway combined with the Trinity River project. Now it's morphed into a toll road? Fortunately, Dallas Progress and others are calling bullshit loudly. Allow me to chime in: BUILDING ROADS IN A FLOOD PLAIN IS A DUMB IDEA.

    Next up, EOW has some great stuff up regarding the Lege and what's expected to happen in the battle royale between Krusee and Carona. Then they posted about Ben Wear's newest column (mad props to EOW for even reading Wear) in which he writes:

    For a number of reasons — campaign trail grumbling last year, disputes with Dallas and Houston toll road agencies, lack of deference to legislators by Texas transportation commissioners, turf battles over huge pots of money suddenly coming Texas’ way — the Legislature has been gripped by a sort of March madness over tollways, particularly those that would be in private hands for a half-century.What remains to be seen is what the madness will lead to by the end of the session May 28. As transportation chairman, Krusee can, in theory, block most legislation seeking to roll back tollway powers. And Perry could veto whatever makes it to his desk.

    But more than two-thirds of the Legislature has signed on to legislation that would put a two-year moratorium on concessions, contracts with private companies to build and run toll roads. Dozens of other bills limiting tollway powers have been filed. And powerful legislators, including Senate Finance Committee Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, are talking about using the power of the purse to curb the Transportation Department.

    Perry and Krusee may have no choice but to make concessions on concessions and on other prongs of their toll road agenda.

    Watch the budget,” Ogden said. “At the end of the day, TxDOT can’t spend a dime without our permission. So, watch the budget.”

    The reality is that Perry will probably veto any bill, even the compromise being sought by Krusee and Williamson both of whom are politically dead men walking. That last bit of information may come as a surprise, but it's reality. Given that, I'm thinking neither will be willing to do much of anything to protect Texas taxpayers from being taken advantage of by the very laws they helped shepherd through the Lege in 2003. Which is why, in 2008, Democrats will retake the Lege and soon after things will start to change. The bottom line is that all Texans want roads. What they do not want are extremely expensive toll taxes and corporate welfare which are the only things the Perry, CradDICK, Krusee and Williamson offer.

    How much money is being spent to fund the pro-TTC PR campaign going on? I know billboards aren't cheap. I also know that with each new op/ed and advertisement, opposition grows to toll roads across all Texans - Republicans, Democrats and Independents.

    If, however, by some miracle Krusee does let the bills through they appear to be 'veto proof'. Which completes the emasculation of Rick Perry which CradDICK started with such zeal in 2003.


    Posted by mcblogger at 02:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    March 19, 2007

    Bitchslapping Attorney General Greg Abbott

    Late in February, Attorney General Greg Abbott eschewed the law for
    political grandstanding when he released GA-0519, Abbott's opinion declaring
    as felons the good folks at Texas's district and county clerks' offices.
    Little did he know such posturing would come back to haunt him so quickly.

    Specifically, GA-0519 effectively rewrote a provision in the Public
    Information Act to read that all social security numbers are private under
    state law. It then went on---in a fit of "creative" lawyering--- to couple
    this revision with a reference to an outdated federal law that makes it a
    felony to disclose social security numbers. The result of all this activist
    judging was a shutdown of Texas clerk offices, which maintain hundreds of
    millions of documents, many of which contain said numbers. Open government,
    in short, took a break.

    People begged and pleaded for "General" Abbott to retract his opinion, when
    its many legal flaws were pointed out, and after the opinion's grave
    consequences spread plague-like across the state. But Abbot, lacking the
    peach fuzz to admit his bad, took the unprecedented step of temporarily
    abating his word for the plebes to figure it all out. And we did. Today HB
    2061---a law declaring the General wrong wrongity wrong wrong wrong---passed
    unanimously out of the Texas Senate and headed to the Governor, bitch
    slapping Greg Abbott along the way.

    Posted by Daisy at 05:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    DOJ finally getting involved in TYC...

    This is what I hope will be the last post about the TYC scandal. It's not that we don't think it's important. It's that each new revelation nauseates us more than the last. Kuff's saying that the DOJ has sent a letter to 39% asking him to DO SOMETHING...

    A South Texas juvenile corrections facility run by the Texas Youth Commission is so "chaotic and dangerous" that it violates the constitutional rights of the youth incarcerated there, the U.S. Justice Department told state officials Thursday.

    Youth-on-youth assaults at the Evins Regional Juvenile Center in Edinburg are five times the national average, the report said, and in one instance last year a corrections officer tried to subdue an unruly youth by pushing his eyes "back into his face."

    A 14-page letter from Justice officials to Gov. Rick Perry detailed repeated patterns of violence that injured both youths and corrections officers at Evins. The report said the facility is poorly designed, insufficiently staffed and has corrections officers who are poorly trained.

    The letter said if the problems are not fixed within 49 days, the department's Civil Rights Division may file suit against Texas to bring the facility into compliance.

    I guess the DOJ hasn't been paying attention to Robert Black's valiant efforts to deflect this miasma from 39%, who is (in case you were wondering) the one ultimately responsible. I will say it's great that they are finally getting involved with this after ignoring and actively trying to cover it up for a LONG time (mad props to the LSP for picking up on that).

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 16, 2007

    Voter ID? Not so much this session?

    The Republicans in the Texas Lege have once again put forward a voter ID bill designed to disenfranchise millions. Because you can't have EVERYONE voting. That would be chaos. And Republicans might lose.

    Unfortunately for the R's, Sen. Ellis has already lined up the votes he needs to block and kill the bill. For the second time.

    Texas Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) announced today that he has eleven signatures in the Senate to block debate on Voter ID legislation under consideration by the Texas House.

    At the press conference announcing this, Senator Ellis was joined by representatives of Common Cause, The People for the American Way, Advocacy Incorporated, the League of Women's Voters and the American Civil Liberties Union.

    This is literally some of the best news to come out of this session. We should be very, very grateful to Senator Ellis and the 11 others who have agreed to block consideration of Voter ID legislation in the Senate. They are true Texas Heroes.

    Bluebonnet at PinkDome has a post up about the pressure Dewhearse is receiving from Tinafish and Douchey Leo Berman to override the 2/3 rule and allow a vote on this. Guess we'll have to see if the integrity of the Senate is worth anything.

    Of course, once you break that rule then you have a realize paybacks are bitch.


    Posted by mcblogger at 03:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 08, 2007

    That's good. THIS would be better

    I would like to congratulate the Senators who have signed on to the bill to halt the TTC. I've little doubt that it's mostly symbolic since Krusee will end up killing Kolkhorst's bill in the House. So, you need to know this will come back in 2008 and we'll all be waiting to see what happens.

    Somervell County Salon (which, by the way, has a ton of video up from the hearing and march last week) is channeling the Waxahachie Daily Light...

    On Monday, state Sen. Robert Nichols filed legislation that would immediately halt any further public-private partnerships or comprehensive development agreements from taking place, according to a press release from San Antonio Toll Party, an activist group in opposition of such measures.

    Note 'any further public-private partnerships or comprehensive development agreements from taking place'. What about those already signed? Are you just going to allow them to stand? You're the State of Texas. Abrogate the existing contracts. You guys are so scared of your own shadows that you don't even realize how much power you have. What the hell would Zachry do? Sue? Even if they win a settlement, just don't pay it. Hell, there are people who won money in lawsuits against the state in the 1970's that STILL HAVEN'T BEEN PAID. In the meantime, as the litigation wends it way through the courts, they certainly don't have to be awarded any contracts, do they?

    I understand that Zachry's been a big contributor to some of y'all, but you need to know exactly how much of liability they are going to be going forward. Contributions from them will become poisonous, just like those from Leininger. It goes for both Republicans and Democrats... it'll get used against you in a primary, then in the general should you not be taken out during the primary. It'll never go away...

    If I were running Zachry, I'd back off the TTC and tolls fast and change the name of the company. I don't think any of you understand just what a PR disaster this all is. You'll overcome it eventually but it's going to be tough and it'll take years.

    I almost feel sorry for y'all. It's going to get much worse before it gets better. God help you all when Krusee kills this in the House.


    Posted by mcblogger at 10:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Burnam seeks to rein in electric companies

    Jobsanger has more on Rep. Burnam's bill to restrict compensation to utility executives

    Burnam's bill would attack this problem head-on. HB 1937 would mandate that any electric company that charges its customers more than 125% of the national average, must pay its executives minimum wage. Yes, he said minimum wage! I guarantee you that if TXU executives are paid minimum wage, they will quickly lower costs to the consumer to restore their enormous salaries.

    This is one idea I like. Another is to link the compensation of senior executives to that of the lowest level employees. Maybe limit it to 40 times the earnings of an hourly worker by taxing any amount over at 100%? Extreme? Sure. But isn't making 450 TIMES the salary of your lowest paid worker enough? Let's me honest, these CEO's aren't worth nearly as much as their earning and consumers, as well as shareholders, are the ones who suffer.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    March 01, 2007

    Shapiro files her bullshit voucher bill...

    You gutless bitch... trying to advance your political agenda by hiding behind defenseless children and their families. Instead of improving the system for everyone, you'd rather give these people the false hope of vouchers. You disgust me, Florence.

    Vince has more on this repulsive bill.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 28, 2007

    Killing the TTC and reforming TXDoT

    Looks like some of our friends are starting to swing back to reality, following the lead of Senator Carona and the majority of Democrats who have said no to the TTC and want to reinstitute legislative control over TXDoT. Welcome back to reality, Sen. Ogden!

    Ogden said he is concerned about the Transportation Department's plans to allow private contractors, for a large upfront fee, to build roads and charge tolls — perhaps forever. He said the department has as many as 21 projects under consideration, including one announced by Perry on Tuesday in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

    "Do we really want to be turning over state highways to private contractors?" Ogden asked.

    The irony is that Ogden was the Senate author of the 2003 bill that expanded the commission's powers to construct roads.

    "I'm trying to correct the sins of the past," Ogden said, adding that he is considering legislation that would end collection of tolls once a highway has been paid for. He said he is concerned about plans to use toll revenue, long after a highway is paid for, to build more roads.

    He said legislators are hearing from constituents who want the agency's powers curbed.

    "Every (legislative) member is paying a political price for what they are doing," Ogden said. "TxDOT needs to be more sensitive and accountable to the Legislature."

    I'm willing to forgive, especially someone who is making amends for past wrongs. This is a massive shift and it's unfortunate that he wasn't joined by Last Term Krusee who, instead, sniped at Ogden.

    Perry's office and state Rep. Mike Krusee, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, defended the state's toll road policy.

    "The Legislature, including Sen. Ogden, had denied our cities adequate funding for transportation for years," said Krusee, R-Williamson County. "If we now remove the only effective tool, it's our cities and our citizens, not TxDOT, who will be harmed, with more congestion, more pollution and less economic opportunity."

    He said that to abandon the state policy would return Texas to the days of 20-year highway projects.

    Krusee's legislative district includes part of Williamson County, which is in Ogden's Senate district.

    Krusee noted that toll roads Texas 130, Texas 45 and the Loop 1 extension have been built since the 2003 bill that he and Ogden co-sponsored.

    "It's ironic that, after the senator's district benefited with literally billions of dollars of projects, he would prevent other cities from benefiting, too," Krusee said.

    Billions in TOLL projects and the last I checked, Mikey, 130 wasn't exactly helping ease congestion through Wilco. Which is why Ogden is as pissed as the rest of us. You bitches couldn't even do toll roads right which makes me think you're thoroughly incompetent in all areas of your life. You picked the most expensive funding option, screwed your constituents and now want to complain about them being pissed at you?

    This brings up an interesting point about the incompetence of Rep. Krusee, often touted as someone who 'understands transportation'. It's been pretty clear, viewing the practical effects of Krusee's ideas when implemented in the real world, that Mike Krusee knows as much about transportation as I know about lacrosse. So, let's dispense with this bullshit about the brilliance of Mike Krusee. It's his incompetence that is beginning to cause a lot of problems for Republicans in the House and Senate, many whom continue, much like good lemmings, to follow Krusee's lead.

    What they don't know is the rumor that Krusee knows he can't win in 2008, has accepted that and has decided to throw everyone under the bus. Hear that, Republicans in the House? You're following a guy who is already politically dead, knows it and has decided to bring everything down around him. Ever heard of suicide by cop? This guy's planning suicide by voter and he doesn't care about collateral damage hurting anyone else.

    So, let me make it very clear for those of you in the Republican caucus in the House, especially those on the Transportation Committee... you all have targets on your back and there are a massive number of political guns, including traditionally REPUBLICAN guns, pointed in your direction. Let Kolkhorst's bill out of committee. Right now it's the only chance you have to save yourselves from a primary opponent and a well funded Democratic opponent in 2008. Seriously, you'd be better off following Rep. Coleman's lead on transportation in the House. More Republicans like him right now than you can imagine.

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 20, 2007

    Republicans sink to a new low

    HB2 is set to pass and Vince at Capitol Annex has a great post up about what a disaster it is. The crux is that the tax cuts are going to require breaking the spending cap. To sell it to the public, the Republicans have tied it to a long held Democratic dream, property tax cuts for the elderly which are desperately needed. The kink in the whole plan is that the tax cuts promised to homeowners can't be paid for by the new business tax the Republicans passed last year. So they are having to take money out of general revenue (from CHIP, TXDoT, etc) to fund the property tax cuts.

    Combined with SCR 20, which the House will consider on Tuesday (along with HB 2 on third reading), HB2 busts the spending cap utilizing funds from General Revenue to fund the property tax cuts. Further, it takes General Revenue funds that should be rightfully spent on other more paramount state needs and uses them to fund property tax cuts that won’t even make a significant annual dent in the average taxpayer’s bill.

    The bipartisan Legislative Study Group has more

    HB 2 is bad public policy because it uses money for other state priorities to pay for an under funded tax cut. An inadequate amount of revenue has been raised by the tax package that was passed during the 3rd Called Special Session of the 79th Legislature. Only $8.1 billion is available in the property tax fund to pay for the $14.2 billion needed to buy down local school maintenance-and-operations (M&O) tax rates from $1.50 per $100 of property valuation to $1.00. HB 2 spends $6.1 billion in current General Revenue to make up the amount lacking on tax cuts before the Legislature has the opportunity to review and debate the state budget. According to estimates from the Center for Public Policy Priorities, the $8.1 billion in the Property Tax Relief Fund would only buy down property taxes to $1.20 for the coming biennium instead of $1.00.

    To fund the property tax cuts for 2008, HB 2 spends $4,231,466,000 from the Property Tax Relief Fund and an additional $2,724,934,000 from General Revenue. For 2009, HB 2 spends $3,846,492,000 from the Property Tax Relief Fund and $3,846,492,000 from General Revenue. Budget decisions, including property tax cuts, for the 2008-2009 biennium should be made in the General Appropriations Act, HB 1, where all spending priorities can be debated side by side so that members can make a more informed decision.

    Nevermind the fact that taxes are going to keep going up because home values in Texas keep going up. Which I guess is why Tom Pauken is bitching about appraisal caps. Again. Tom's a real dumbfuck, even for a Republican. What the Democrats proposed (increasing the homestead exemption) would do more to help people than some ridiculous cap. The larger problem is that property taxes are a shitty way to fund public services like schools because they are levied based on assets, not income. That is to say, the bill is delinked from the mechanism that allows it's payment. Of course, you don't hear Pauken or anyone else talking realistically about replacing property taxes with income taxes. Like I said, DUMBFUCKS.

    Just as in 2003, the Republicans are screwing over the people of Texas, in the name of tax relief that won't last and at the expense of actually putting money into public schools. Glenn Smith has more over at BOR.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 15, 2007

    Bipartisan group supports public schools

    A new group headed up by former Lt. Governor Bill Ratliff is taking aim at the pro-voucher crowd:

    "We don't understand how it is that if you have a campus with 500 children and 100 somehow ... take advantage of the voucher and go somewhere else, how does that affect the other 400?" Ratliff said. "If it's a bad school and we take a hundred of them out with vouchers, it's still a bad school. We believe a far better course ... is fix the school. Don't abandon 400 children for the sake of the hundred."

    Gee, we've been saying that for a while. Good to see some decent Republicans (like Ratliff) stand up and say it with us.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 14, 2007

    John...just slug Dick!

    The Schlockman (via EOW) has a story up about the confrontation Tuesday between Sen. John Carona and Texas Transportation Commissioner Ric 'Dick' Williamson in which Rep. Mikey Krusee (R- Toll Road Time Machines) decided to step in lamely (what, you expected him to be anything but?)

    Williamson was the star witness before the House Transportation Committee this morning, invited there by the committee chairman, state Rep. Mike Krusee, to make his case about the state’s transportation funding shortfall and the Perry administration’s toll-centric approach to addressing it. Then Carona, a Dallas Republican who chairs the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee, showed up.

    Following legislative protocol, Krusee, R-Williamson County, invited his opposite number from the Senate side to sit in with the committee. Carona has called for Williamson’s ouster from the commission, by the way, and has filed a number of bills averse to Perry’s and Williamson’s transportation policy.

    Granted the floor, Carona said that he’d tried to get on Williamson’s calendar and had been told it was full into March. So, he asked Williamson, will you commit here and now to meet with me this week?

    “You are a clever guy,” Williamson said, trying to keep the moment light. “I look forward to meeting with you.”

    Yes, but will you meet this week, Carona pressed? Williamson was non-committal. They went around the track a couple more times in this way, then Carona dropped the pretense of collegiality. Williamson was “arrogant,” he said, and engaging in “artful dodging.” A final time, he asked for a meeting this week.

    Williamson paused. “Frankly Senator,” he said finally, “I’m speechless.”

    The man has a huge say in the funding of TXDoT and you can't meet with him until MARCH, Dick? That's just stupid. Rather than upbraid the recalcitrant commissioner, what does Krusee do? HE APOLOGIZES TO HIM LIKE A PATHETIC CHILD.

    Carona left shortly thereafter and the hearing continued. Krusee and state Rep. Fred Hill, R-Richardson, later offered words of apology to Williamson for the episode, and Krusee quickly called Carona to set up a meeting. A meeting between Krusee and Carona, that is.

    “I think we’re all better off when we’re discussing policy, and not personalities,” Krusee said after the meeting. He said that would be his message for Carona.

    Mikey, he doesn't want to meet with a douche like you. You no longer have any real power since everyone knows you'll be gone in 2008. Seriously, the people in Round Rock wouldn't lift a finger for you if they saw you on fire. Considering how you've treated them, I can see why. As for discussing policy, I think that's cool as long as you're starting from a point of apology for the horrendous job you've done for your constituents and the people of Texas. That is to say, this toll strategy is a non-starter and we have to approach future decisions with an acknowledgment of that. So far, that hasn't appeared, Mikey.

    Wear finishes up the article with this...

    This session is shaping up as a rough one for the Texas Department of Transportation. Several senators last week gave agency officials a good grilling in the Senate Finance Committee, and Carona has sponsored a number of bills averse to the Perry/Williamson way of doing things. If nothing changes, this may be a session marked by the House passing its transportation bills, the Senate passing its own, and then all of the legislation ending up in a crumpled heap in the Rotunda.

    Let's hope not. My read on things is that Mikey better get his shit together and start backing up Carona. It's pretty sad when a Senator from Dallas is more popular in a Central Texas district than it's own Representative. That's the case right now in Mikey's district. If Mikey doesn't start playing ball he may find himself on the wrong side of Senator Carona.

    That's something he definitely doesn't want.

    UPDATE : I wrote this last night and this morning found John McClelland's excellent post at BOR with video of the hearing.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 13, 2007

    Surprise! Voucher advocates think vouchers are a good idea

    Via Eye on Williamson comes this bit of fun from the Schlockman:

    More private school vouchers could lead to lower dropout rates, according to a study from groups that support school choice.The study was commissioned by the National Center for Policy Analysis, Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options, and the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit started by the late economist dubbed “the nation’s leading voucher advocates” by The Wall Street Journal.

    Then there is this from the DMN

    “This research brings into sharp focus the disastrous results of not embracing bold steps to reform our public education system,” said Rod Paige, former U.S. Secretary of Education. “No society can long prosper under the weight of so many children lost.”

    As EOW astutely points out, the 'bold steps' need be nothing more than actually FUNDING THE SCHOOLS. This is a bit like hobbling a race horse yourself then claiming that since he can't win a race he should be shot. Thankfully the majority of Texans aren't buying it and are demanding the Lege do more for public schools. Which is why vouchers will continue to be a loser for Republicans as long as they choose to bring the bills. Go ahead, Sen. Shapiro. It'll be fun to see a Democrat in your seat.


    Posted by mcblogger at 11:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 08, 2007

    OH YEAH, that's why vouchers suck

    Well, pro-voucher lobby day is over. No word yet on whether or not someone actually told Leininger to fuck off. I'd like to believe someone did, especially in light of his decision to abandon his voucher project in SA. That's really the point, isn't it? That a voucher program can throw kids out on the street while a public school can't.

    Leininger's project always struck me as a little disingenuous considering that it was designed only to help a small portion of the student population in SA. If Leininger cares so much about the kids (and not about his own business interests) wouldn't he be doing everything he could to make sure that public schools were well funded?

    Isn't it time we stopped talking about useless, wasteful projects like vouchers and started talking about really providing the support to public schools that they deserve? It's obvious that more money equals a better education (what, you thought private schools were cheap?), so why don't we talk about funding public schools?

    We're all waiting Republicans. We know y'all are the hold up on all this. It sure as hell isn't the Democrats. Oh and would someone tell John Stossel that until he has something more than anecdotal bullshit he should really keep his ass out of the debate? Also, let him know that 'stache is doing nothing for him, except making him look like a nasty leather daddy.

    Posted by mcblogger at 04:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 07, 2007

    No to Vouchers

    Is Dr. Hospital Bed at the Capitol today? Tell him that he's never going to have a PR resurrection. Let him also know his milk sucks ass and his beds are too hard. Then smile and finish it up with, 'you're ugly' followed by a kick to his genitals.

    Remember, this is the man who wants to destroy public education in Texas and is hell bent on spending whatever it takes to get laws passed to destroy the middle class. He's declared war on us, I think it's high time we declare war on him.

    Dr. Hospital Bed, you're the new suck. No, we don't like you Dr. Hospital Bed. We don't like people who try to turn this great state into a banana republic.

    Muse has more on the pro-voucher lobby day.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 06, 2007

    To primary or not to primary...challenging the Iscariot Caucus

    Vince and Hal both have excellent posts against primary challengers for the DemocradDICKS who voted against the Geren Amendment. Their underlying point is that the Democratic Party is the party of the big tent and I agree.

    Except when it comes to leadership votes. And that's what this is all about... had these Democrats stood with the rest of the caucus, CradDICK would not now be speaker and the Democrats would have a stronger position from which to benefit their constituents and the state as a whole. As it stands now, the DemocradDICKS benefited alone and it remains to be seen whether anyone else will reap a reward. My money is on probably not, at least not on anything really important. There isn't a kindly, gentler CradDICK despite the claims to the contrary.

    There are a number of Democrats who hold positions I don't respect While I like them personally, I think they are far from being the leaders this party desperately needs. LBJ was a leader, forcing as many Democrats as possible to vote for the CRA and VRA even though he knew he was asking them to vote 'against their districts'. The Democrats who voted for HJR 6 during the 2005 session voted their districts because they weren't brave enough to do the right thing and fight against bigotry. Would it still have passed during the election? Of course. However, it's that first step to make right a tremendous wrong. Would they have been defeated? Possibly a few but not all. However, they would have done the right thing and possibly changed some rather calcified minds. It's speaking to the electorate that makes the difference. It's how progress begins.

    Even still, while I may not be overcome with love for these people, I'm also pragmatic. I knew there was no way in hell Chuck Hopson was going to vote to against making gays second class citizens. I would also never support a primary challenger to him. While I personally think it was a gutless decision, he voted his district and what he believed. As a Democrat, I expect nothing less. And that's really the point... people carp and bitch about DINO's but in the end they are with us more often than against us. Further, when it comes to leadership, they stick with the caucus. THAT IS WHAT DEFINES A DEMOCRAT. Yes, it was one Republican vs. another (everyone knew someone from the majority party was going to be speaker). However, it would have been a Republican we could have worked with and who didn't put greed before the people of Texas.

    Vince wants this to be about a payoff for the DemocradDICK's districts and that's fine. However, this time they could have had their payoff and not fucked the rest of us over. Which is why this won't end well for any of them.

    None of us are stupid. We know this is a multi-cycle project and will likely take years. However, it's going to be done and let me assure those out there who wring their hands over the loss of the district to a Republican that it ain't going to happen. If there's one thing I know about Texas Democrats today it's that they are tougher than anyone imagines. If Republicans come playing in our sandbox they'll have their balls cut off and shoved in their mouths just to remind others that people who try to take advantage of events usually get screwed.

    We aren't all like Dennis Kucinich. We're mostly more like LBJ... only meaner. Oh, sure, occasionally we'll sing Kum Ba Yah. However, we'll only do it while dancing on a Republican grave.

    Stace over at Dos Centavos has more about the real world impact of the vote for CradDICK.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:37 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    February 03, 2007

    Well, DMN, if you love him so much why don't you marry him?

    The DMN has an editorial up about the vote this week to suspend the Constitution. The DMN looks at it as slowing things down which makes me think they are retarded. They view Democrats as obstructionist when in fact they were only doing what's right. The last time CradDICK and Co. got what they wanted on this we ended up able to sue no one, our insurance rates kept going up and we got toll roads out the ass. Of course, the DMN Ed Board thinks screwing consumers was progress so naturally they weren't upset by any of that.

    What's more, the DMN was also wrong about this necessitating an end of session rush. As Rep. Dunnam pointed out, that's nothing more than a bullshit argument:

    “We are told if we don’t pass this, the whole House will come to gridlock. I have the calendars from the last several sessions. In the 76th legislature, do you know how many were brought up in the first 60 days? Two! IN the 77th, we brought up six. In the 78th session, six came to the House floor, and in the 79th session, ten bills. Those include the emergency bills. So you are being told if we can’t bring up ten bills in the next 60 days the Senate is going to rule the world and the sky is going to fall. If we can’t take up 6-10 bills in the next 60 days, nobody’s bills are going to be passed. That’s not credible. You know that.”

    You know, if the DMN wants to suck CradDICK off so bad, why don't they just save us the trouble of reading the pedestrian prose and get on their knees?

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 02, 2007

    Dumb Debbie Riddle. Bad girl!

    When Debbie acts like a stupid dog, we're going to damn well treat her like one.

    Debbie's an idiot who'd rather waste time forcing her ridiculous, childish, and thoroughly hypocritical piety on others. Jesus Christ spoke of people like Debbie Riddle. It's in Matthew. If she's not too busy beating someone with her Bible, she might want to take a look at it.

    My tax dollars are not going to pave Debbie Riddles (or any other Legislators) way into Heaven. I don't think anything can. This is, for me, no different than putting a golden calf on the steps of the Capitol. Yes, Debbie, I'm offended. As a Christian and as a Texan. Fuck you and your dumb bill.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    February 01, 2007

    Bills : Villarreal files discrimination legislation

  • Wow. Color me impressed.

    The bill, filed as HB 900 would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. This legislation is a broad anti-discrimination act that encompasses employment, labor unions, public accommodations (hotels, motels), housing, and provides penalties for those who discriminate because of sexual orientation.

    I know it won't pass, but even to see it filed is impressive and says a lot about Rep. Villarreal. Seriously, he's going out on a limb to file this and that deserves some respect. Thank you, Representative.

  • Representative Burnam filed a bill to tie adjustments to the minimum wage to inflation automatically.

    Burnamʹs legislation would cause the minimum wage floor to automatically adjust each year based on the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers as computed by the United States Department of Labor.
    Major opponents to the federal minimum wage increase cited the potential damage to businesses that are faced with a sudden wage hike. Because Representative Burnamʹs bill adjusts the wage floor each year based on inflation, this legislation will ensure that businesses are protected from sudden wage hikes in the future.
    ʺThis bill will eliminate the time spent legislating the minimum wage in the future,ʺ said Burnam. ʺIt gives Texas workers the dignity of a living wage without having to fight for increases during every legislative session. This is a practical and necessary solution to a problem that affects the working poor all across the state of Texas.ʺ

    Excellent work, Rep. Burnam! Though we know it won't pass, it's great to see someone take the initiative and put it out there. Let the Republicans explain why the voted against it.

  • Posted by mcblogger at 10:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    January 31, 2007

    In which Tom CradDICK whines about the size of his dick

    Not really, though I'm sure he's whined about his cock from time to time. Seriously, I don't know a straight boy who doesn't wish his dick was bigger and I know CradDICK is straight. Fags are vindictive, but we're up front about it. CradDICK always comes from behind. Wait...actually, let's not even go there.

    Fresh from today's defeat, CradDICK was whining about the vote he lost and how it will slow the legislative process. Which is complete bullshit since the only thing that's been slow so far are his committee assignments and the only thing that could slow things down more are stupid bills from Leo Berman rewriting federal laws.

    Whatever horrendous agenda CradDICK was planning to roll out and shove through the House has been set back. That's what's best for Texas. If the House actually focuses on what's important, instead of giving Dr. Hospital Bed and Perry another hummer, then there is plenty of time to get things done. If they choose to focus on vouchers bills... ANY VOUCHER BILLS... it's going to waste a lot of time.

    So, Tom, do what's right, quit bitching and let the process move forward at it's own pace.

    Posted by mcblogger at 05:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    January 30, 2007

    Suspension of Constitution in the House fails, CradDICK defeated

    108 to 34, that was the final vote on the suspension of the 60 day rule. 34 people finally put the brakes on CradDICK and said 'We're going to do what's right for our constituents and the people of Texas'.

    Vince has more on the debate and the speeches. Branch questioning Dunnam is funny as hell, simply because Branch comes across as a retard with his repetitive (and ridiculously obvious) questions.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    January 29, 2007

    Appraisal review recommendations funny...

    I know, I know... this came out last week. That was, in fact, when I wrote this. Still, I don't think nearly enough attention was paid to it so I'm rekindling the fires.

    Statutory:

    Require Voter Approval for Spending in Excess to Reasonable Levels of Government Growth
    And what would you consider reasonable? Would you consider it reasonable when spending has to increase due to massive population increases? Kinda like the ones we've been seeing for years?
    Improve Fairness of the Appraisal Process
    Fair rocks! However, I think you're covering that with the mandatory sale price disclosure.
    Change Comptroller’s Property Value Study
    Prospectively Prohibit Unfunded State Mandates
    Yes. If the Lege wants something done, they need to allocate the resources for it.
    Require Sales Price Disclosure
    Almost the best idea ever! People find it unbelievable that there is a whisper market in Real Estate. However, it is there and it's pervasive. This is the best thing The Lege can do to increase fairness in the system, not to mention giving a lenders a better idea on the value of all properties which will accelerate the process of mortgage lending, allowing more people to buy homes.

    Constitutional Measures:

    Add Consistency to appraised Taxable Value for Taxpayer Protection and Relief

    Oh, I can't wait to see how you're going to do this but go on, give it a shot!

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    CradDICK trying to stick it to Texas... again

    Everyone's favorite codger, Speaker Tom CradDICK (R-Cocksucker) has asked all members of the Texas House of Representatives to be present for a very special episode of Blossom. I kid, I kid. It's actually an episode of Moeshe that will help explain teens having sex to some of the dumber members of the Lege (wake up, Warren! Look alive, Berman!). After the video, CradDICK has asked the members to vote to suspend a constitutional rule that prohibits consideration of legislation not designated by the Governor as an emergency on the floor within the first sixty days of the session.

    Suspending the rule requires a four-fifths majority vote. The rule has been suspended every legislative session except one and CradDICK has used it aggressively during his reign of terror. Some of his hits include:

    1) All but eliminating the ability of consumers to sue... anyone.
    2) Kicking kids off CHIP
    3) Fucking up school finance
    4) Finding, then losing, Jimmy Hoffa's body (in the folds of Linda Harper-Brown's stomach, natch)
    5) Redistricting fun
    6) Tax 'cuts' that were more funny stupid than funny ha-ha
    7) The TTC and Here-A-Toll, There-A-Toll, EVERYWHERE-A-TOLL!

    Sounds perfectly innocent, no? Yeah... given what a vengeful prick CradDICK always shows himself to be, I think it's safe to say he's going to try to drive another anti-consumer, anti-taxpayer session in the House while drinking a puppy blood juice box.

    Keep in mind that almost a fifth of the Lege (and they were all Democrats) voted against CradDICK for speaker. Now that the committee assignments are out and the vengeful asshole has done what he's going to do, we're hoping they'll pull in a few more people and slap his ass down on this.

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    January 25, 2007

    Ellis bans smoking...everywhere

    Haven't you people done enough to us?

    Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, announced plans last week to file a bill that would ban smoking from all public buildings in Texas, including bars and restaurants.

    The law would trump the exemption for bingo halls and the other handful of businesses that was written into Austin's non-smoking ordinance.

    The debate will pit arguments of personal liberty against concerns over health costs for smoking-related illnesses and the health risk unfairly posed to non-smokers. Business owners also cite declining alcohol sales in cities that prohibit smoking in bars.

    Declining alcohol sales? The negatives so outweigh the positives on banning smoking it's not even funny. Beside, you guys are about to pass all that cancer research stuff so it'll be cheaper to treat us when we get something from smoking.

    Let's not forget that our education system now depends on me lighting a cigarette literally every 30 seconds. Not to mention all those people who work at gas stations whose very jobs depend on me buying cigarettes. Why the entire economy may well collapse if this ban is pushed forward!

    Please, Senator Ellis, just let us enjoy our nicotine fix!


    Posted by mcblogger at 10:47 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    January 24, 2007

    Dan Patrick does something else stupid

    Oh, Dan. Why do you keep filing bills? From the AAS

    Patrick, R-Houston, filed Senate Bill 268 which would place a fee on money wired out of Texas to any foreign country. The 10-percent fee on wire transactions under $5,000 would be collected to provide funding for border security.

    Oops... I think you're getting into Federal territory there, boy-o. I'm sure OCC and The Fed would LOVE to take a look at this idea, since they are technically the ones who control the wire transfer system. Of course, there is a giant hole in this plan... most of the wiring companies have operations in other states and they could simply move the transaction there, then onto it's final destination. Or they could just change over to money orders altogether.

    Dan, if you're serious about immigration, go after the employers, secure the border (but not with some stupid fence) and grant amnesty to all who apply for citizenship within one year. Further, increase support for economic growth in Mexico, especially in large loans to government specifically for lending to small businesses and individuals. People come here because they can earn more money. If they could do that in Mexico, they'd never leave in the first place.

    If you'll do that, especially that last part, you'll begin to break-up the asset distribution structure in Mexico (which is far too top heavy to create economic growth) and really provide a firm footing for a Mexican middle class.

    None of this is hard to understand, Dan. Oh, and lest you think this a handout, keep in mind that Mexico pays it's debts... usually before they are due.


    Posted by mcblogger at 12:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    January 23, 2007

    We like to gamble...

    and we know you do as well. Which is why it's good that Senator Ellis filed SJR8, a bill that would allow the public to vote to amend the Texas Constitution and allow casino gaming here in Texas.

    Texas Democrat Senator Rodney Ellis is proposing licensing up to 12 casinos across the state, mainly in major cities and on tourist islands along the gulf coast. Voters would then have to approve this proposal - by approving a state constitutional amendment. Then local voters would have to take a vote before a casino could be built in their cities.

    So, for all you NIMBY folks out there, you'll get a chance to make sure, during a local election, that the big bad casinos won't be near your home.

    There are a couple of realities that people opposing this, both liberals and conservatives, need to understand:

    1) People are going to gamble. They've been going to Louisiana for years, not to mention Vegas.
    2) Texas should benefit from the money spent by Texans on gambling.
    3) Re-read 1 and 2 until it sinks in.

    Honestly, I get the argument that this is yet another regressive tax. However, I don't see it that way at all. This is a tax on a business, nothing more. If you're worried about people spending money they don't have, then do something about it like restricting advertising and create a gambling commission that provides assistance to those who become addicts. Don't restrict those of us who do have a modicum of self control and want to gamble every now and then.

    Posted by mcblogger at 04:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    January 22, 2007

    Phil King, a rabbi and a priest are in an accident...

    Stop me if you've heard this one before.

    A rabbi and a priest get into a car accident and it's a bad one. Both cars are totally demolished, but amazingly, neither are hurt. They crawl out of their cars and the rabbi sees the priest's collar and says, "So you're a priest. I'm a rabbi. Just look at our cars. There's nothing left but we are unhurt. This must be a sign from God. God must have meant that we should meet and be friends and live together in peace the rest of our days." And the priest said, "I agree with you completely. This must be a sign from God."

    And the rabbi said, "and look at this. Here's another miracle. My car is completely demolished but this bottle of Mogen David wine didn't break, surely God wants us to drink this wine and celebrate our good fortune. And so he handed the bottle to the priest. The priest said he agreed, took a few big swigs, and handed the bottle back to the rabbi. The rabbi took the bottle, didn't drink at all, put the cap on, and handed it back to the priest. The priest asked, "aren't you going to have any?" And the rabbi replied, "No . . . I think I'll just wait for the police."

    What exactly does this have to do with Phil King? Not a damn thing, I just thought the joke was kinda funny unlike Phil King's bill to keep the poor from voting. Of course, much as the joke has nothing to do with King, his bill has nothing to do with 'protecting the integrity of the vote'. Do I think Rep. King is a racist? No. I think he's playing politics with one of the fundamental rights guaranteed to every American citizen, the right to vote. You see, poor folks are going to have a problem with his voter ID law. Even if they do have picture ID, they may not want to present it out of fear their names will be taken down and people will be able to see how they voted. So, this bill which is supposed to assure the integrity of the vote is really just a way to keep what Rep. King hopes will be mostly Democratic voters out of the polls.

    Just about now is when the law of unintended consequences comes up, and it's a bitch for Rep. King. More and more, poor people have associated themselves with Republicans because of religious/'values' issues. That association is what has really propelled the GOP into power here in Texas. Seriously, how else can you explain people living in a single wide in Nacogdoches that still have a W04 sign up in their yard. These are NASCAR folks and they love them some President Bush. They don't know what's going on unless there was a article about it in US (they think People is kinda snooty).

    While this will depress minority turnout for Democrats, I think it will hurt Republicans a hell of a lot more. All it takes is someone spreading a rumor in a mostly poor white area that the cops will be at the polls checking ID's. Trust me, that will result in two very bored blue hairs working the poll that day and a loss for Republicans.

    While I'd love to get worked up about this, I just can't. Even if the Republicans are stupid enough to pass it there will be a court challenge almost immediately which will more than likely result in the law being overturned, especially since the real world evidence of massive voter fraud (one of the rationales for this program) just isn't there. Essentially this is a poll tax, nothing more. You can't do that here in the US, but I guess Rep. King didn't realize that when he shit this turd out of his ass.

    Now, Rep. King, why not do some real work... like mandate that the counties have to create a voter verified paper trail along with a paper record of votes on each machine in time for the 2008 election. Time's a wastin' and that's a hell of a lot more important than making sure an 80 year old registered voter isn't an illegal alien.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    January 19, 2007

    Another way to track bills this session...

    Last week we told you about Somervell County Salon's new site to keep track of the Lege. It would appear there is another site out there called BillHop which is another great resource for keeping track of bills. While it lacks a crawler to recover the bills from the TLO website, the interface is based on a Wiki which gives users the ability to add bills, comment and communicate. It's clear to follow and you'll love the title on HB111.

    Check it out when you have a chance! Also, check out Vince's piece on a couple of bills filed by Democrats so far.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    January 17, 2007

    Oops... it's a bitch when a 'surplus' evaporates

    Grits and Kuff both have great pieces up about the spending cap and the evaporation of the surplus. Muse discusses it from the angle of the property tax cut which, as it turns out, isn't so much happening.

    Sucks, I know, but it's not like we didn't already know about it...

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    January 16, 2007

    $83 Billion? WTF?!?!

    Did you know that there is $83 billion sitting in a fund controlled by the State of Texas? Apparently, there is...

    The Texas Universal Service Fund has collected so much money, in fact, that it has a surplus of $83 billion, prompting the state's Public Utility Commission to lower the fees' rate from 5.65 percent to 5 percent fees.

    This is fund that we all pay into every time we pay our phone bills. Ostensibly, it's to subsidize phone service for rural Texans (as well as those with low incomes and the disabled) so that they pay about the same (or lower) cost for phone service as urban and suburban customers. Obviously, we're paying too much if the fund has accumulated $83 billion at a time when less and less of the state is rural.

    So how about it, Lege? Why not take down the percentage to a much lower level and then use the surplus in the fund to take care of transportation, with the balance going to build schools and reinforce the employee's pension systems (Teachers and Public Employees)? Seems like that would be a far better use than letting it sit in a fund, unused.

    If we're serious about boosting the economy and getting it ready for the 21st century, spending this money on education, infrastructure and pensions would be an excellent first step.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    January 14, 2007

    Well, that's just wrong...

    B and B has an interesting take up on the Speaker's race...

    I believe it was a mistake for progressives to try to turn the choice of Pitts (and earlier, Republican Brian McCall) into a litmus test for Democratic legislators, an effort which many of my fellow Texas political bloggers drove. In fact, this effort may have contributed to Pitts' defeat, as it likely helped make Republican legislators wary of publicly joining the Pitts forces. These GOPers may have feared a primary challenge funded by Craddick allies, but such a challenge would have been more likely to succeed due to the vocally Democratic nature of the McCall/Pitts coalition.

    While I can't speak for other bloggers, I can elaborate on what I hoped to achieve. This race was important and everyone that voted for CradDICK should be targeted. They voted for a continuation of pay to play politics, for partisanship over common sense and for self-interest over what's best for Texas. I warned Republicans and Democrats alike and told them both CradDICK wasn't the one they should fear.

    Just FYI, he still isn't.

    Posted by mcblogger at 07:51 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    January 11, 2007

    New tool to keep up with The Lege

    Somervell County Salon has a great new tool... a wiki-like bill tracking and commenting system. The damn thing rocks... check it out when you have a chance!

    Posted by mcblogger at 04:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    New tool to keep up with The Lege

    Somervell County Salon has a great new tool... a wiki-like bill tracking and commenting system. The damn thing rocks... check it out when you have a chance!

    Posted by mcblogger at 04:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Speakering in tongues

    Well, the fight is over. The new lines have been drawn and people are already gearing up for short term fights during this session and longer term fights beginning next fall. Muse has a recap the vote on the Geren Amendment which clearly shows that there are some good Republicans... and a few bad Democrats. For those of you interested in what little Patrick Rose had to say, Muse also has the text and Can-O-Fun has the audio of his insipid speech.

    BOR has a great post up on the democraddicks and what they were voting to support.

    And that, as 'they' say, is that. People were told CradDICK is not the one they should fear... it's us, the millions of Texans of who wanted a change. Now the die is cast and you can almost hear the bells ringing, signifying the death of the Republican Party in Texas and the end of the careers of 15 Democrats. Oh sure, it may not happen for all of you in 2008. Maybe it will be 2010. However, it'll happen. As surely as the sun will rise tomorrow morning, it'll happen.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    January 10, 2007

    Dear Dawnna

    With a heavy heart, I pen this missive in remembrance of your loving embrace. There is no other way to say this – your love has grown cold. I can barely hold it together as I express my deepest regret to our fallen relationship.

    It seemed only yesterday that we laid in the cool tall grass of HD 46 and looked into the night sky. The million stars shined on us and our dreams of unlimited potential. Our love knew no boundaries. Embracing a young, intelligent, liberal woman in the Texas House had made me swoon with desire.

    First, it was those rumors, those wicked, wicked rumors about being seen with my nemesis, the Republican. I shrugged that off as just petty politics. My anger swelled at those who would try to split us apart. Then the innuendoes about conservative bed fellows were just too much to bear. You stopped coming around and I never saw you again at all our old haunts. You didn’t return my phone calls, and that time you passed me in the capitol rotunda without acknowledging my existence crushed my spirit.

    Well, I hope your happy and wish you only the best. I’ll only remember the good times we spent together. I will survive.

    Mending a broken heart,

    The Progressive Cause

    Posted by Captain Kroc at 03:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    January 09, 2007

    Who's liveblogging the miasma...

    Pink Lady is doing a fine job while watching it and blogging text messages from Lawrence Collins.

    BOR has a live thread, as does Texas Kaos. I hear Kuff, PDiddie and Greg are there as well...

    So who's got the scoop on all the exciting (not exciting) work (not really work, either) going on at the Capitol? Or, is this all a bunch of anti-climatic lame while CradDICK does his best to bail water from his rapidly sinking dinghy?

    That's right, kids... sinking. It looks like a ballot and we won't know how folks voted until after committee assignments are made. Which means CradDICK has got his pig tit in one hell of a ringer.

    UPDATED 5:23 - Looks like the secret ballot when down in flames...oops.

    Posted by mcblogger at 04:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Giant Wax Cock endorses CradDICK

    wax cock1.jpgGiant Wax Cock, an Austin original since two days ago, today announced it's support for Tom CradDICK during an impromptu drinks meeting at a local bar.

    Tom Craddick is an old friend and I think he is the best person to lead the Texas House of Representatives. We've had our share of ups and downs (not to mention ins and outs), but in the end we've developed a mutual respect. Of all the people/objects I know, he is the only other that understands how it feels to be a giant dick.

    A flame then burst from the head of The Giant Wax Cock while Melt With You by Modern English played loudly in the background. Most of those present openly wept at the sweetness of the sentiment displayed by Giant Wax Cock.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Yes, Aaron, we see you (and Dawnna, too)

    Oh. God.

    The fact that some of you tried to sneak (or, in the case of Patrick Rose, run) in is just so... tacky and Republican. I know you realize you're on the wrong side. Why not do the right thing and switch over manana?


    (huge hat tip to K-T at BOR)

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    January 08, 2007

    CradDICK R's should be scared shitless, too

    We've talked a bunch about the CradDICKhead Democrats, but we've talked little about the Republicans who are supporting their ethically questionable leader. So, in the spirit of fairness, we're taking time out of our busy Sunday to clue y'all in.

    Dear CradDICK Republicans:

    I don't vote in your primary, however I know people who do. I know many folks all over the state and what goes for Democrats goes for you as well. You need to think carefully about what your support for CradDICK is going to cost. Trust me, you don't want to pay the price. Should you make it through the primary, you'll find me and others working for the Democrat who'll face you. You'll also find the Republicans who didn't vote for you in the primary working with us. Just ask some of the R's who lost to D's this year how it feels.

    Many Republicans have already come out to support Pitts because they're smart. Why would they want to stick with CradDICK? Leininger's money? In case you hadn't noticed, it's poison at this point. What does that leave CradDICK with to threaten you? A primary challenger? Keep in mind, CradDICK and Co. aren't doing so well on that front.

    We, however, do win our challenges. It's not CradDICK you should fear, it's us. Ordinary Democrats and ordinary Republicans, working together, who all know that Tom CradDICK is bad for Texas. Make your choice wisely.

    Nothing but love for you,

    McBlogger

    Just in case you missed it, Vince at Capitol Annex has some great stuff up about corporate interference with the race and Kuffner has some information on those who stand to lose the most from a CradDICK dethronement.

    There really shouldn't be any doubt in the minds of people that this isn't partisan, this is about what's best for Texas.


    Posted by mcblogger at 01:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    January 05, 2007

    But children are so tasty...

    ..or so Tom CradDICK tells me. That, my friends, is why you eat your young.

    This is, of course, a Speaker update. I'm on the clock during the day so I don't get to talk about the race during normal hours unlike some other bloggers. I'm especially grateful for the work of Pink Lady, Matt, Muse, WCNews and Rawhide and all the others who are actually taking to the time to keep up with this bullshit.

    For those of you in the real world, that's what this all is...bullshit. There are some who think certain progressives who are promising to support primary challengers for our weak Democratic brothers and sisters are employing nothing more than a CradDICK style control device.

    It's a fucking stupid argument which I'm sick and tired of hearing it. Why? Because there just isn't any reason for Dawnna Dukes to vote for Tom CradDICK. Sure, there are excuses which she and other CradDICK D's have been more than happy to share with any reporter in earshot. However, excuses (much like assholes) are extraordinarily common and they all stink. What CradDICK and the Talipublicans do is force a member to vote against their district and the good of the state. What we are trying to do is to get the Reps. to actually, you know, REPRESENT THEIR DISTRICT. There is no reason that someone like Sylvester Turner should support Tom CradDICK. Oh sure, he gets to keep his little bit of power but in the end, that's all he has. He can't do anything with it. He certainly couldn't help the kids who ended up being losing health insurance.

    One has to wonder how much bad legislation passed during the last four years would have made it to the floor had CradDICK not been speaker. 3588? 1361?

    HJR 6?

    This is a fantastic chance for Democrats in the Lege (who are, by and large, a moderate group) to actually work with moderate Republicans for the good of the state and the citizens they serve.

    Yes, the vote for Speaker matters. Yes, we are paying attention. No, we won't forget.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:02 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    January 04, 2007

    Speaker, schmeaker

    Oh, God, though thou surround us with morons, let us not lose our heads.

    Kuff has an update on today's action and Peggy Fikac says that the LBB meeting has been postponed while Pitts gets some pre-election botox. CradDICK is MIA in all this, probably having some new blood put in from fresh puppies.

    McCall is apparently dropping out and throwing to Pitts which would make him the prohibitive favorite. If Senfronia doesn't throw a big wrench in the plans and bend Pitts and CradDICK over to fuck the hell out of them. Personally, I like McCall but not knowing the dynamics of the race, I guess Pitts will do as well. As the saying goes, Anyone But CradDICK. Still, what do we really know about Pitts other than that he likes to promise more than he can deliver (isn't that right, Dawnna?).

    Of course, the whole thing will probably change tomorrow since Steve Urkel is still in the running as is Gibb Lewis. ITPT says that Andy Brown is expected to throw his support to Pitts. Which is exciting because it means another big check pic. I LOVES ME SOME BIG CHECK PICS.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    January 03, 2007

    I bought cigarettes yesterday...

    ... and came to the conclusion that I really super hate Mark Strama.

    If I didn't believe that the children were, indeed, our future, then I would sooo quit smoking. As it is, schools have to be paid for, I think they actually need more money and since they cut my property taxes a bit the least I can do as a patriotic American is keep lighting up.

    Children are wonderful and I intend to purchase some soon. I also know they need to be educated and that doing that requires money which I'm more than happy to pay. That doesn't stop me from still hating Mark Strama.

    What's next, Mark? Maybe you and Naishtat can get together and tax the hell out of my other favorite vice?

    (if you haven't clicked the 'our future' link, do it now)

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    December 29, 2006

    An idea for making Texas schools better

    Here's an idea for what to do with part of the giant mega surplus that will greet The Lege when it returns in January... supply computers to every student in Texas. Sounds expense, right? Not really and we can afford it. Project Inkwell is doing it now and it's working. From strategy+business

    I will never forget a visit I made to a math classroom in an elementary school at Lemon Grove School District in San Diego, Calif. We were there in the spring, and a bar chart on the wall showed that each of the students had already finished the full year’s curriculum, months ahead of time. This is not an upscale, highly privileged district. Half of the kids are on the free lunch program, and English is not the native language of many of their families. (Thirty-seven languages are spoken in their homes.)

    I had gone there with a theory that when students are given their own computers to use at school and at home, under the right conditions, “superlearners” will emerge. But we weren’t completely prepared for the overwhelming success that we found at Lemon Grove. We asked the math teacher about the potential for improving student performance. She smiled and pointed to the bar on the chart that represented the best achiever. “He’s already two years ahead of this class,” she said.

    This is happening not just in San Diego, but in the other areas where it has been pushed. The US spent a ton of money wiring classrooms for broadband but no computers have yet materialized. That, among other things, has to change. If you're serious about remaking public schools, about really making them the best they can be and giving Texas kids a chance to learn, then this is something you need to read. With all the talk about bullshit vouchers people forget that we should be demanding more for our public schools, not expecting less.

    I'm posting the entire thing in the supersize, just in case you have any issues at the site.

    From Laptops to Backpacks
    by Mark Anderson

    I will never forget a visit I made to a math classroom in an elementary school at Lemon Grove School District in San Diego, Calif. We were there in the spring, and a bar chart on the wall showed that each of the students had already finished the full year’s curriculum, months ahead of time. This is not an upscale, highly privileged district. Half of the kids are on the free lunch program, and English is not the native language of many of their families. (Thirty-seven languages are spoken in their homes.)

    I had gone there with a theory that when students are given their own computers to use at school and at home, under the right conditions, “superlearners” will emerge. But we weren’t completely prepared for the overwhelming success that we found at Lemon Grove. We asked the math teacher about the potential for improving student performance. She smiled and pointed to the bar on the chart that represented the best achiever. “He’s already two years ahead of this class,” she said.

    We hope such stories will be typical of the future; they certainly are not typical of the past. Last May, Goldman Sachs International Vice Chairman Bob Hormats put into words (in a keynote address at the 2006 Strategic News Service [SNS] Future in Review conference) what many businesspeople know instinctively: Education can be a country’s greatest weakness in a globalized business environment.

    We also know that simply throwing money at the problem does not help. Education funding in the U.S. has been climbing for decades, but reading scores continue to decline. Meanwhile, Western education systems are increasingly unable to produce enough candidates for high-value jobs, involving research and development, programming, engineering, and the like — jobs that increasingly go instead to candidates in India, China, and other developing regions. So what is the answer, and who can provide it?

    These questions led me to form SNS Project Inkwell in 2003, a global consortium chartered to “accelerate the deployment of appropriate technologies onto K–12 desktops.” My cofounders and I believed that only technology could deliver a revolution in K–12 education. But not just any technology. Specifically, what is required can be expressed in a phrase: “one-to-one computing” — that is, the revolution that takes place in the classroom when each child owns his or her own PC. Yes, the devices have to be better designed than they are today — and much cheaper. That’s been our primary goal. And no, the device itself is not nearly as important as the training of educators for its proper use and introduction into schools. That’s a related goal, which we are working on right now.

    Three long-range trends are coming together to make one-to-one computing particularly relevant now. First among them is computers in schools. During the Clinton administration, the U.S. spent $50 billion per year on wiring schools to the Internet. Each school launched its own computer lab, and kids learned to type. But in the end, it was an embarrassing showing: The government spent $200 billion bringing technology to schools during the 1990s without any noticeable improvement in learning or test performance.

    It turns out that having a computer lab, or a PC on a teacher’s desk, or even one machine for every four students, is essentially worthless — in fact, it’s probably a distraction. As far as we can tell, real improvement takes place only in classrooms with a one-to-one computer/student ratio.

    Hence the second trend: the movement toward providing individual children with computers. Its best-known incarnation is One Laptop per Child, the handiwork of MIT Media Lab pioneer Nicholas Negroponte and Logo programming language inventor Seymour Papert. But this program, according to Dr. Papert, does not include, or require, any educator training at all. Just plug in the machine and the education outcome should change. It turns out that this is not plausible. Without teacher training, computers cannot be introduced into classrooms effectively.

    Fortunately, the third trend is a rise of interest, mostly unseen outside education circles, in better “staff development,” as educators call it. And when these three trends come together, here’s what we see:

    • Schoolrooms self-organize into study pods (usually of four members), and students begin working and learning in teams. Learning is more project-based, with each student taking responsibility for a particular part of that project.

    • During oral and written questioning, all children answer all problems at their computers, so it isn’t just the bright kids who jump in. The teacher can see how each child is doing and provide help in real time to those students who most need it. Students take their machines home at night and do homework on them in a connected environment (this, too, is part of the Inkwell goal). For students in needy homes, this is a great equalizer.

    In a survey by the Greaves Group and the Hayes Connection, titled “America’s Digital Schools 2006: A Five-Year Forecast,” 88 percent of the schools operating one-to-one programs that tracked their academic outcomes reported “moderate to significant positive results.” The survey concluded: “It appears that properly implemented ubiquitous computing solutions can help improve student achievement to a significant degree.”

    Former Maine Governor Angus King (who is now chair of the Inkwell Governor’s Committee) was a pioneer in understanding the power of one-to-one. In 2002, he ordered laptops for every seventh grader in his state — about 37,000 of them. Maine is currently in its fourth year of this program. “We realized early on that this was not just about education,” Governor King said. “This is about economic development.”

    Massachusetts, Michigan, and South Dakota have similar statewide one-to-one programs. Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, and another 11 states are also now moving toward statewide implementations.

    One-to-one computing could produce a windfall for computer makers. That’s why they will be motivated to tackle the performance and cost improvements required to make this concept a success. There are 54 million kindergarten through 12th-grade students in the U.S. alone. At a hypothetical technology budget of $1,200 per child — which includes not only the PCs but learning devices, servers, software, network, and training — there is a potential $64 billion in the Inkwell U.S. market. Apply this formula around the world, which we are doing, and the numbers grow much larger.

    But to take advantage of this boon, computer makers will have to produce machines at reasonable prices that better meet the needs of students and teachers. We have more than 30 corporate members of Inkwell so far, and we are working to establish standards for machines that are simple, durable, and accessible to children. A typical Inkwell computer can outperform business laptops in a variety of measures, from higher survival rates in the classroom to less time lost to booting and support, with a lower total cost of ownership.

    Even in an age of ever-tighter education budgets, the movement toward one-to-one PCs is inevitable. The success in states like Maine and districts like Lemon Grove is so dramatic that even if some educators resist, parents and politicians will surely overrule them. In fact, the revolution is under way: The Greaves/Hayes survey found that 24 percent of all U.S. education districts are already in the process of transitioning to Inkwell’s approach. Starting in schoolrooms, the magnitude of this change may be the catalyst that ushers in the next wave of lightweight computers, which will be associated less with the airplane seat of a business traveler, and more with a student’s backpack — and ultimately with a new style of lifelong learning that emerges on this new, near-ubiquitous platform

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:20 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    December 25, 2006

    All I want for Christmas is a new Speaker of the House

    Speaker Tom Craddick must be feeling a little uneasy. Why else would he bother using the ever-useful Round Heels in today's Slag to float a story predicting smooth sailing for his re-election plans?

    The most important vote the Legislature will take when it convenes on January 9 is likely to be the election of the speaker. That choice will signal whether Texans can expect the Culture of Corruption to continue to dig the state further and further into last place in education, in health care, in every other category that connotes modern civilization; or a bipartisan effort to at least stop the digging and maybe even make a little progress toward getting out of the hole.

    The previous speaker, Pete Laney, was widely haled as a "Speaker for all Texans". In contrast, Craddick's style has been termed "petty", "partisan", "vindictive", "dictatorial", "biased", "snake-like", "corrupt", "dishonest", "authoritarian", "biased", "hateful", "mean-spirited" and "disastrous". And that's just what his friends have to say.

    The first challenge to Craddick's continued leadership came this spring when liberal icon Senfronia Thompson announced she would be a candidate for speaker. She is a great representative, a powerful orator, and has about as much chance of being elected by the republican-majority House as I do. Recently Plano republican Brian McCall announced his challenge to the regime, and for the moment he seems the leading challenger to Craddick.

    The election of the Speaker is a very serious matter for the members of the House. The hand that wields the gavel wields power: supporters of the Speaker can expect good committee assignments and their legislation being heard on the floor, while enemies can be cast into outer darkness, their bills left to whither on the vine. I hope our legislators find the candidate and the courage to replace Tom Craddick on January 9. Texas has a lot of problems that need to be addressed. Overthrowing Craddick isn't the solution to the problems, but it is a precondition.

    Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 10:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    December 17, 2006

    In which I pay for your marriage counseling...

    ... and hate every fucking minute of it. Seriously, if some jackass couple is getting state funded marriage counseling, shouldn't that be part of the public record? No, really, I want to see what the hell the problem is because now I'm going to be paying to help heal the rift thanks to Rep. Bill Zedler (R-Asshat) who has prefiled a Covenant Marriage bill that may actually pass this session.

    Arlington state Rep. Bill Zedler stepped forward as the point man on the issue when he filed a bill this week that would allow couples to opt into such a marriage by attending state-paid premarital counseling. Should the union turn sour — as defined by adultery, physical or sexual abuse, felony conviction, or living separately for at least three years — couples would have to attend counseling and go through a two-year separation before a judge could hear the divorce case.

    I have sooo many problems with this and they all stem from a belief that the more government gets involved with marriage, the worse it's going to be for the institution of marriage. NTL has an excellent write up on this and a Fort Worth Star-Telegram op-ed ripping it up.

    Rep. Zedler, this is a dumb idea. Don't waste time in the Lege even arguing for it.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:44 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    December 12, 2006

    Ready for the Session?

    Blind hunters are the new sexy cheerleaders!

    Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 09:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    August 24, 2006

    TTC : What Ben Wear missed

    Kuff has some stuff up about this today as well. Just pointing out that's it not just the bloggers who live along the 35 who know the TTC is an issue.

    Ben Wear has an article up on the TTC that completely missed the point. Ben wrote it from the perspective of how it's effecting Perry's doubtful re-election and in so doing managed to miss the overarching point that the people opposing the TTC know more about what's needed for transportation than the geeks at the thinktanks who have accepted as a gospel truth toll roads everywhere are a necessity.

    A little research would do Ben a world of good. The biggest problem in this state is that we collect a gas tax and only spend a little over half the money ON transportation. A smaller problem is that we don't spend it efficiently.

    We do need a slight increase in the gas tax. We also need to make sure we can continue to receive federal highway dollars and have those dollars spent efficiently (yeah, we need TX DoT to be able to audit contractors). That means pollution in the metro's is a first class concern.

    First and foremost though, WE NEED TO SPEND TRANSPORTATION TAXES ON TRANSPORTATION. The estimated realistic shortfall over 50 years is anywhere from $50-60 Bn. If we simply increase the gas tax by $0.05/gallon and no longer divert transportation tax revenue from TX DoT, we can easily cover that gap and make critical improvements now with bond issues. Perry's pie in the sky $86 Bn over 25 years is nothing more than the delusional rambling of a deeply disturbed lunatic.

    The problem for Perry is that his campaign contributors can't make as much money on freeways. The TTC plan allows Zachry to get paid not only for building the roads but for operating them as well. That's not a case of having your hand in the public purse. That's a case of stealing the purse and beating the state to death with it using Perry and Todd Staples as your accomplices.

    It's time for reporters to do a better job of actually getting the facts, learning the issues and pointing out when the politico's are LYING.

    "If someone has a better idea . . . please lay out that plan," Perry said. "None of them do. My point is, if you're going to be afraid to lay out plans to take the state forward, you might choose a different line of work."

    Oh, Tricky Ricky... Bell's out there and so is Hank. You're about to get your ass kicked, Mofo.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:26 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    May 27, 2006

    Shapleigh : Texans need to know that their children are in Grover’s bathtub.

    Eye on Williamson has a great piece up by Senator Elliot Shapleigh that should be read by every Texas Democrat. It wouldn't hurt if some of our other elected officials and hopefuls started talking the same way.

    After 10 years of the Bush era in Texas and six in D.C., we now know the pattern: tax cuts for the wealthy few, budget cuts for you and deficits as far as we can see. During this era, Grover Norquist Republicans have worked every session to shift taxes from wealth to work, from the rich to the middle class. Norquist is famous for saying “my goal is to cut government in half in 25 years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” What Texans need to know is that our children are in Grover’s bathtub.
    The result of the tax shift and program cuts is that income has steadily become concentrated in the hands of the wealthy. Texas started the 21st century with the greatest income inequality in the nation between the richest 20 percent of income earners and the middle 20 percent.

    In today’s politics of the right, tax cuts are valued over children, and budget cuts are valued over good teachers.

    After a decade of right-wing leaders, Texas ranks 50th among the states for high-school graduation rates and 48th in SAT scores, and Texas’ per-pupil expenditures recently dropped from 35th to 38th. Despite these obvious failures, tax cuts, not children, come first.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 16, 2006

    The Special Session's enduring legacy : A 10.5Bn hole

    The next time a Texas Republican talks about fiscal responsibility, you should really punch them in the face. Or, at the very least, call them out for lying. From The Center for Public Policy Priorities (via The Red State):

    special session reveal a gap of $10.5 billion between the expected costs of HB 1 and anticipated revenues from HB 3, 4, and 5 in 2008-09

    Thanks for nothing, losers.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 15, 2006

    In 6 minutes it's over. Thank God.

    According to both PD and INPT, who are channeling one another, at 5:00 today the House will Sine Die. They managed to leave huge holes in the budget, provide no new money for schools and hand out some unsustainable tax cut candy. Good work, kids.

    We hear the reason for their exit without passing a bill to ban abortions or make it illegal for homo's to own Subarus is a doctors appointment that a certain male 'member' of the House leadership has. We're not naming names, let's just call him ED.

    I keep telling y'all, girls talk.

    Posted by mcblogger at 04:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 13, 2006

    Perry does something right...

    Vince over at Capitol Annex has a post up about one of the items which Perry is expanding the Special to include.

    Gov. Rick Perry added two more items to the agenda of the 30-day special legislative session on school finance on Friday, including one that would let lawmakers bar members of an anti-gay church from protesting funerals.

    Duncan’s bill would make it a Class B misdemeanor to protest within 500 feet of the site of a funeral service from one hour prior to the time the site is used for a service until one hour after. Of course, this bill is designed to stop the psycho-Baptists from protesting soldiers’ funerals. As best as I could ever tell, they protest soldiers’ funerals because:

    Military funerals are pagan orgies of idolatrous blasphemy where they pray to the dunghill gods of Sodom and play taps to a fallen fool.

    Oh. Well, that clears things up. Not! Clearly these people are crazy. But what is more crazy is enacting a law that infringes on Texans’ right to freedom to assemble, freedom to speak and freedom to express.

    While I agree with Vince that freedom to assemble SHOULDN'T be abridged, it's not in this case and I would feel the same way even if the group being singled out was not a bunch of nutters. Protesting funerals is just wrong, I don't care if the person being buried has the kind of resume a demon would use to apply for a job within a Republican Administration. That being said, all this does is apply a 500 foot distance barrier between the funeral and the protestors. Is that too much to ask?

    The question will come up... Where do you draw the line? You draw it at a funeral. Nothing else. I'm not a particularly big fan of anti-choice protestors at clinics. However, they have a right to assemble regardless as does David Van Os when he wants to hold a filibuster at the Capitol. It cuts both ways; However, a funeral is substantively different. For many of the people who attend, it will be one of the worst experiences of their lives. Burying a loved one is incredibly difficult and no one should trample the rights of the grieving to mourn their loss.

    This will, of course, be challenged in court. The courts will probably find it unconstitutional and there will then be a call for an Amendment to prohibit protesting at funerals. It will likely not pass but hopefully, by then, the issue will be moot. Still, this IS something the Legislature should take up and that Perry should sign, election year aside.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack